The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has confirmed that the Punjab government has approved a home international Twenty20 (T20) series against an International Cricket Council (ICC) World XI.
The week-long, three-match series will be played in Lahore and it effectively mark the return of elite international cricket to Pakistan after an absence of almost nine years. Following a 2009 attack by gunmen on the Sri Lankan men’s national team bus all of the cricket’s Test-playing nations - apart from Zimbabwe and Afghanistan - have declined to tour the Asian country on safety grounds. Pakistan have played 'home' fixtures in the UAE in that time.
The final of this year's Pakistan Super League (PSL) was also played in Lahore in March. The domestic T20 competition had been played in the UAE until that point.
The Punjab government has promised presidential-level security for the ICC World XI, which will be led by former England coach Andy Flower. Ahead of the series, an ICC security team will visit Lahore on 26th and 27th August. All three fixtures have been awarded international status by the ICC.
"This is a very big thing," said PCB chairman Najam Sethi. “September, October and November are big months. It's a big agenda, we need your prayers and we will open the doors and international teams will come.
“Pray that we keep our security solid. The Punjab government has given us the signal and preparations are in full swing."
Sethi added that the PCB was in “advanced discussions” with Cricket West Indies (CWI) about a series of T20 games in late November in Lahore, which are dependent on a successful and safe ICC World XI tour.