Test cricket to return to Pakistan with Sri Lanka’s visit

Asad Shafiq of Pakistan bats during the Test cricket match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at Dubai International Cricket Ground in Dubai on October 10, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 14 November 2019

Test cricket to return to Pakistan with Sri Lanka’s visit

  • Sri Lanka will play a two-match series at Rawalpindi and Karachi next month
  • The series is part of ICC’s World Test Championship

ISLAMABAD: Test cricket is set to return to Pakistan after more than 10 years when Sri Lanka plays a two-match series at Rawalpindi and Karachi next month.
Sri Lanka was the last team to play a test match in Pakistan in March 2009, when the team’s bus came under attack at Lahore. Eight people were killed during the terror attack, and several Sri Lankan players were injured.
All incoming tours were canceled after the attack and Pakistan later lost its status as a co-host for the 2011 Cricket World Cup.
The Pakistan Cricket Board on Thursday said Sri Lanka Cricket had confirmed next month’s tour would go ahead, based on the successful staging of a series of one-day and Twenty20 internationals at Karachi and Lahore in September and October.
Sri Lanka was originally scheduled to play the test series last month and then return to Pakistan for a limited-overs series in December. However, the tours were swapped so that Sri Lanka officials could assess the security situation in Pakistan before deciding on the test venues.
Rawalpindi is now scheduled to host the first test from Dec. 11-15, and the second test will be played at Karachi from Dec. 19-23. The series is part of ICC’s World Test Championship.
Zakir Khan, the PCB’s director of operations, said that the confirmation of next month’s test matches reflected confidence in Pakistan’s safety situation.
“This series is part of our cricket celebrations and we will leave no stone unturned in putting up a show which is a memorable one for the players, officials, fans and media,” Khan said.
Several top Sri Lanka players withdrew from the limited-overs series in Pakistan because of security concerns. Sri Lanka lost the ODI series 2-0 after the first game was washed out, but it’s second-string team sprung a huge surprise when it swept Pakistan 3-0 in the Twenty20 series at Lahore.
The SLC said it was satisfied with the visit and the high-level security provided for the team.
Sri Lanka Cricket chief executive Ashley de Silva said he believed cricket’s member nations should host their home matches in their own countries.
“We believe all cricket playing countries should host international cricket at home and in this relation we are happy to play our part in complete resumption of international cricket in Pakistan, which not only has a proud history but has been one of our biggest supporters in our early days as a cricket nation,” he said.
“We drew our opening World Test Championship series against New Zealand, and I anticipate, like in the past, these two tests will be exciting and competitive, and the fans will thoroughly enjoy the quality of cricket that will be on display.”
Pakistan has hosted its home games at neutral venues in the United Arab Emirates and in England during the last decade. The Pakistan team will play two test matches in Australia before returning for the series against Sri Lanka.

Zidane: ‘I never had a problem with Bale’

Updated 20 September 2020

Zidane: ‘I never had a problem with Bale’

  • I’m not going to pit us against each other. I’ve not had any problems with Gareth, I know what he has done for this club, Zinedine Zidane, Manager of Real Madrid

MADRID: Gareth Bale completed his return to Tottenham Hotspur on a season-long loan deal from Real Madrid, Spurs announced on Saturday.

However, the Wales attacker will not be fit to make his second debut for the club until late October due to an injury.

Zinedine Zidane earlier confirmed that Bale is in London to secure a return to Tottenham.

“I haven’t spoken to him,” Zidane told a press conference, ahead of Real Madrid’s first La Liga game against Real Sociedad on Sunday.

“What he’s done here cannot be disputed. He has won many things here and he has shown his qualities. Now let’s see what will happen.”

“There are negotiations,” Zidane continued.

“He’s there in London. I’m not going to pit us against each other. I’ve not had any problems with Gareth, I know what he has done for this club.

“I can’t say more. We’ve not had any problems and what he’s done here, no one can argue with. If he moves, I wish him the best.”

Zidane may have been keen to be cautious after he said last year it would be “best for everyone” if Bale left when a move to China seemed certain, only for the deal to collapse at the last minute.

Zidane added: “Gareth is our player at the moment and the issue is still to be closed.”

Bale has scored 105 goals and made 68 assists in 251 games for Real Madrid.

“Our club wishes good luck to a player who has been part of one of the most successful stages of our history,” Madrid said in a statement.

At Tottenham, Bale is still remembered as one of the club’s all-time greats.

The 31-year-old has won four Champions League titles and two in La Liga, as well as scoring arguably the greatest ever goal in a Champions League final against Liverpool in 2018.

“We know what the player has done in his seven years here,” said Zidane.

“Now it’s about what the player wants to do as well and I can’t get into that.

“Are there things that happen in a team? I’m not going to say the opposite of what I’ve always said. The player has been spectacular.”

Madrid begin the defense of their La Liga title this weekend against Real Sociedad, after being given extra time off following their involvement in last season’s Champions League.

The club have made no signings this summer due to the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, while Eden Hazard is again struggling for fitness.

Asked if Hazard had now recovered from the ankle injury that plagued him last term, Zidane said: “I don’t know, I can’t tell you exactly.

“He is better and the most important thing is him, his feeling, that he is 100 percent. We have time, we are starting the season. What he needs is to be 100 or 120 percent.”

Zidane also confirmed fullback Sergio Reguilon, who spent a successful season on loan at Sevilla last year, is joining Tottenham.

“I congratulate Reguilon for the season he had,” said Zidane.

“We have two players in each position, nothing more. I have two fullbacks already and I can’t have three, or four, or five, because then it’s a mess.

“We wish him the best because he had a good season with Sevilla and he deserves to be there playing with Tottenham.”