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.

British golf star joins elite field for Saudi tournament

Updated 27 February 2020

British golf star joins elite field for Saudi tournament

  • The Saudi Ladies International will be the first professional women’s golf tournament held in the Kingdom

JEDDAH: English golf star Georgia Hall is the latest big name to be confirmed for the history-making inaugural Saudi Ladies International, the first time professional female golfers will play competitively in the country.

Hall stunned the golfing world in 2018 when she became the first English player in 14 years to win the Women’s British Open. The 23-year-old also won the Ladies European Tour (LET) Order of Merit in 2017 and 2018 as well as winning the Player of the Year accolade.

Last year Hall was part of a victorious European team that shocked the US for a first Solheim Cup victory in six years. The Bournemouth-born star competed in five matches in a tightly contested cup, with Europe winning by 14½ points to 13½.

The Saudi Ladies International will be the first professional women’s golf tournament held in the Kingdom. Hall is one of many headline names competing at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), near Jeddah, from March 19-22.

“I am pleased to be part of the first Saudi Ladies International as they look to make golfing history in the country,” said Hall. “From what I’ve seen of the golf course, it looks like a stunning setup on the Red Sea and a pretty challenging test — it’s a brilliant chance for us to showcase our game to newcomers to golf.”

Amy Boulden, who broke onto the golfing scene in 2013, will also compete in the debut tournament. “Our game continues to break new ground, and coming to new places like Saudi Arabia for the first time shows the ambition of Golf Saudi and the Tour,” she said. “I want to play well in a big event that can give me some momentum for the season.”

Sweden’s Camilla Lennarth, another big name in the field, said: “Playing golf in front of new fans is the best way to expand the game and hopefully we will inspire more girls to pick up a golf club and get involved in our great sport.”

A field of 108 female professionals will contest the $1 million prize fund, one of the richest prizes on the recently expanded LET calendar. Players from across the golfing globe will tee off in the Kingdom for the watershed tournament.

I am pleased to be part of the first Saudi Ladies International as they look to make golfing history in the country.

Georgia Hall, English golf star

Among the big names are Thai teenage sensation Atthaya Thitikul, a two-time winner on the women’s tour at just 17 years of age, as well as experienced South African star Lee-Anne Pace, who has 12 worldwide victories to her name.

Order of Merit winner Beth Allen, three-time LET winner Carly Booth and Solheim Cup winner Azahara Munoz are other leading players lining up for the tournament.

“Hosting another prestigious Championship in Saudi Arabia adds to an exciting golf calendar for fans in the region. With top female golfers from around the world coming to compete, it will be the first time we will see elite female golfers compete in the country,” said Yasir bin Othman Al-Rumayyan, chairman of Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation.

“The championship is open for everybody to attend throughout the four days and I encourage everybody to go along, watch world-class sport and enjoy the sport and entertainment on offer,” he added.

Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, which is set within KAEC, has had a busy start to 2020, already playing host to the European Tour’s Saudi International.

At last month’s second staging, Major champion Graeme McDowell came out on top, marking his first title on the European Tour since 2014 and pushing his world ranking from 104 to 47.