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.


Saudi women achievers make a pitch for Kingdom’s first female-only golf tourney

Updated 28 October 2020

Saudi women achievers make a pitch for Kingdom’s first female-only golf tourney

  • Online series explores the significance of the feats of five different women

JEDDAH: Inspirational Saudis who overcame gender barriers to achieve a string of firsts for women in the Kingdom have reflected on the groundbreaking nature of their feats, in a new video series heralding the country’s first all-female golf tournaments.

Dalma Malhas, Saudi Arabia's first female Olympic medalist, Mariam Fardous, the first Saudi woman to deep dive in the Arctic Ocean, Nelly Attar, founder of Move Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s first dance studio, Maram Al-Butairi, general manager of Eastern Flames, the first Saudi female football team, and DJ Cosmicat, the Kingdom’s first female DJ, came together to share what it means to them to have been a “first woman” in Saudi Arabia.

 The initiative was organized by Golf Saudi as a means of illustrating the milestone of next month’s debut Aramco Saudi Ladies International, presented by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) — the Kingdom’s first ladies golf tournament, and only the second ever international, women-only professional sports event held in the country.

 Fardous — who was only the third woman to deep dive in the Arctic when she took the plunge in 2015 — said: “I believe that everyone should make their own mark in life. This is my one rule. I wanted to make a mark — one mark that could be seen and felt by everyone.

 “I hope to be a source of inspiration for women, especially girls who don’t believe that we can achieve the impossible. I imagine that our vision — and the fact we have achieved something — will make girls see that they can overcome anything and achieve their dreams, and that they can think outside of the box in creative ways. We can be poster women for our country,” she added.

 “These famous golfers who are coming to Saudi Arabia have certainly had their own difficulties, but we can see how they’ve managed to succeed and how they were able to make their own mark in life. They are all great achievers. I’m so excited to learn more about golf here in Saudi Arabia, in my own country, and see these inspirational female athletes compete.”

 The five-part video series — which launches Tuesday on the event’s official Twitter and Instagram channels (@saudiladiesintl) — invited each of the five women to share their journey to creating Saudi history.

 They each explained what drove them to shatter the glass ceiling above them, and how they saw their achievements inspire other women across the Kingdom, the wider Middle East and the world.

 Malhas said: “Representing Saudi Arabia at the Youth Olympic Games and winning a bronze medal was a moment that was full of honor, pride and glory — and it definitely changed my life. I think it is very important for young girls to see women achieving their goals and pursuing their dreams. It just raises an awareness that it is now possible for them to do the same.”

 The new tournament has been orchestrated by Golf Saudi, who are hoping this will drive more Saudi women to take up golf. As announced last week, the governing body will also make golf free for up to 1,000 women from next month, when they launch their Ladies First Club membership.

 Golf Saudi CEO Majed Al-Sorour said: “The Aramco Saudi Ladies International, presented by the PIF, is yet another significant and historic step forward for Saudi Arabia, and is the latest on the same path these five women and thousands more have helped carve throughout the Kingdom in recent years.

 “Our two tournaments next month will be only the second and third international, professional women-only sports events to ever be held in our country. We feel that’s something of incredible impact, and in celebrating it, we are highlighting the pioneering Saudi women who have helped make it possible,” he added.

 “This unique video series does that, and it is our honor to have these exceptional women encapsulate the ethos of the Aramco Saudi Ladies International — and the excitement around it — in this way.”

 The $1 million prize tournament takes place Nov. 12-15 at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), and will be followed two days later by the unique format of the Saudi Ladies Team International,  Nov. 17-19, where teams of four players will battle together for a share of $500,000.

Both events will feature more than 100 female European Tour golfers, including Solheim Cup heroes Georgia Hall and Charley Hull, and a host of other top names.