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Pakistan optimistic of hosting Zimbabwe

BY DANIEL NHAKANISO

THE Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) says it is hopeful that Zimbabwe will tour the subcontinent nation for a limited-over series to be played behind closed doors in a bio-secure environment in November.

Zimbabwe is expected to tour Pakistan later this year for a three-match T20I and ODI series as they look to salvage their coronavirus-affected international season.

The ODI series will form part of the inaugural ICC Cricket World Cup Super League, which will culminate in the 2023 World Cup qualifiers.

The local cricket governing body is, however, still awaiting government’s approval.

Speaking for the first time on the planned tour, PCB chief executive Wasim Khan expressed optimism that the tour between the two countries would go ahead after revealing that works to ensure a bio-secure environment for the series are already underway.

“(The) bio-secure environment is being prepared for the domestic season and the international series against Zimbabwe and guidance is also being sought from the England Cricket Board for their experience in creating a secure environment,” Khan told the Pakistan newspaper The News International yesterday.

He said the Zimbabwe team would arrive in Pakistan on October 20 and would spend two weeks in quarantine, after which the series would start from the first week of November.

“We are hoping for Zimbabwe to come and play in Pakistan, but they are still awaiting government approval. “They are scheduled to play in November, but they will come in October to complete their quarantine,” Khan said.

“We are also determined to complete the PSL this year and are looking for a three-day window,” he added.

Pakistan are currently touring England and Khan said PCB officials were using the ongoing tour to draw lessons from the English experience in ensuring a bio-secure environment.

He termed the long-held assumptions regarding the security situation in Pakistan as wrong and said that the situation in the country had improved a lot.

He said: “There were 37 foreign cricketers in different teams during PSL this year. I would ask the world to ask the players, how was the experience of staying in Pakistan?”

Zimbabwe, who became the first Test-playing nation to visit Pakistan in 2015, will be hoping for the tour to be given the nod by government having already lost out on international fixtures this year.

Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) recently announced early this month that they were scrapping the proposed five-match T20I series against Afghanistan, which had been scheduled for the capital, which means they will not be able to play any matches at home again in 2020.

The Afghanistan series became the fourth engagement to suffer the same fate after Zimbabwe’s home and away tours against Ireland, India and Australia were also shelved due to the coronavirus pandemic in the last few months.

ZC had applied for a waiver to proceed with the Afghanistan series in a strictly controlled environment. However, with Zimbabwe experiencing a spike in the number of coronavirus cases at the time, the government advised, through the Sports and Recreation Commission, that the country was not ready as yet to host visiting teams.

The Chevrons, who hosted Sri Lanka for a two-match Test series before travelling to Bangladesh for all formats earlier this year, will, however, be confident of fulfilling the tour to Pakistan.

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