Ten years after the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team bus in Lahore, it seems like Pakistan are finally set to host their first Test match. According to a report in Espncricinfo, Sri Lanka are likely to play at least one Test in Pakistan after Sri Lanka Cricket Board (SLC) received “positive feedback” from the security delegation that visited Lahore and Karachi.
Initially, the series between both the countries was scheduled to be played at a neutral venue but Pakistan Cricket Board invited Sri Lanka to play in Pakistan. After receiving the offer, a security delegation headed by Mohan de Silva traveled to Pakistan to assess the security arrangements and he submitted his report on Friday.
As per the report, the feedback was positive but SLC are still keen on discussing some alternatives before taking a decision. “The feedback we got from the security team was very positive,” SLC CEO Ashley de Silva said. “We’ll be talking to the PCB about some alternatives before we arrive at a decision. The government will be consulted as well.”
The biggest hurdle to hold a Test match in Pakistan is obtaining the opponent players’ consent to tour Pakistan. Earlier in 2017, Sri Lanka did play a T20I in Pakistan but the big names refused to participate in the event. Sri Lankan cricketers Upul Tharanga, Lasith Malinga, Niroshan Dickwella, Suranga Lakmal, and Akila Dananjaya had then refrained from playing. A Thisara Perera-led Sri Lankan side along with then SLC president Thilanga Sumathipala and sports minister Dayasiri Jayasekara had then traveled to Pakistan.
Pakistan after being struck by the 2009 Lahore attack have not hosted many international matches, but since 2015, the country has successfully played limited-overs series against Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, and West Indies. Apart from a number of Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches, the country also organised a three-match T20 series against World XI in 2017.
Looking at the reluctance of players opting to play in Pakistan, PCB managing director Wasim Khan had earlier urged the MCC World Cricket Committee to visit the country and the committee in response had assured support in restoring international cricket in the country.
“It was a very positive meeting with the MCC,” Wasim said. “Shane Warne, Kumar Sangakkara, and Mike Gatting, the chair of the committee, were present there. They wanted to me to present on the current security in the country, along with what impact playing no international cricket here has had, and what can be done to restore it. I am very, very confident that we will have an MCC team touring us in the near future. But, there are some matters related to security that need to be covered before they send their team. We will work very closely with the MCC to make sure that the tour happens.”