As part of its efforts to return top-level cricket to the country, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has announced that Karachi will host a Twenty20 International series against the West Indies next month, as well as the final of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) T20 competition at the end of March.
The T20 final and the three-match T20 series against the West Indies will all be held at Karachi’s National Stadium and marks the return of international cricket to Pakistan’s most populous city for the first time since the March 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka team’s bus by gunmen in Lahore, which saw eight people killed and seven visiting players were injured.
Following the incident, Pakistan has played the majority of its ‘home’ series in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), while Lahore has been the only destination for a select number of international and PSL games played in Pakistan.
Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium hosted two Twenty20 and three one-day internationals against Zimbabwe in 2015; last year’s final of the PSL and three T20 internationals against a World XI; as well as a T20 international match against Sri Lanka, demonstrating the country’s improved security.
The West Indies will become the latest international cricket team to commit to playing in Pakistan, following Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan.
Lahore was previously announced as the venue of the West Indies matches but the PCB was encouraged to host the matches outside the city after Karachi was declared safe by international security experts last month.
The PSL final takes place on 25th March, with Lahore host two play-off games on 20th and 21st March. The West Indies series takes place over 1st, 2nd and 4th April.
Najam Sethi, chairman of the PCB, also announced that he was in talks with West Indies Cricket for a Twenty20 tri-series in the US.
Sethi said: “This is a historic development and we are very excited about this opportunity of providing Karachi fans some top-class cricket which besides the HBL PSL final now also includes the West Indies series. This will be a one-off series, since, as I told you before, it will be a loss-making enterprise. The idea wasn't to make money; it was to bring cricket back, so this is a step in that direction.
“We have a separate agreement with the West Indies in which we are exploring a tri-lateral series including Pakistan, West Indies and one other country, which will be played in the USA over next five years. The details about the venues, dates and financial model will be discussed later but in principle it has decided that three countries will play in the USA.”
The West Indies are the reigning World Twenty20 champions, after winning the title in India in 2016.