LAHORE - The Pakistan Cricket Board has decided in principle on the UAE as the venue for its limited overs series against Australia later this year. A board committee of senior officials will visit the UAE next Wednesday to meet officials from the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) and finalise details of the short tour, likely to be held towards the end of August, reported The National. The series will have three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 internationals. The newspaper added, Intikhab then presented his findings to the board chairman Zaka Ashraf in Lahore on Monday although the board did not, as was expected, announce a decision then. But officials familiar with the negotiations told The National: "In principle, the decision has been taken to stage the series in the UAE, to be held after Ramadan and before the World T20 starts [in Sri Lanka from September 18], beginning from around August 22."
An official announcement is expected only after the committee meeting on Wednesday. Malaysia had been a distinct possibility but it is understood the PCB was not comfortable with the cricketing infrastructure; the venues would have needed extra seating put in, as well as electronic scoreboards. The UAE, on the other hand, provides a useful familiarity and ready made set-up for hosting an international series.
Because Pakistan has been hosting contests regularly here over the last five years, it has become a cost-effective option, as well as a convenient one for the PCB's broadcasters Ten Sports. The heat and humidity in the UAE in late August was always thought to be a major obstacle but the PCB and ECB have remained confident throughout that it can be worked around. The T20 games have late evening starts, but one solution is for the ODIs to start at 5.30pm local time instead of 3pm. There had been talk of the possibility of arranging a series of five T20s and scrapping the ODIs altogether but that would have required exemption from the International Cricket Council (ICC) first; bilateral T20 series of more than three games are not generally allowed unless it happens in the same year as the World T20. The ICC could have been open to the idea, but it is understood that Pakistan wanted to finalise an itinerary sooner rather than later instead of waiting for permission. On Wednesday, Intikhab had confirmed to reporters in Lahore that the "plan is to play three ODIs and three T20Is. I have given my assessment reports about both venues [UAE and Malaysia] and the announcement will be made within this week." Australia are no strangers to the region. They played Pakistan in one T20 and five ODIs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in April-May 2009. And one of Pakistan's first neutral ground series, in October 2002, was also against Australia when the sides played one Test in Colombo and two in Sharjah because of security concerns in Pakistan.