–Smith, Warner bans to expire during Pakistan series ahead of World Cup
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Sunday announced the schedule of a five-match ODI series between Pakistan and Australia, which will be played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with the series opener in Sharjah on March 22 and the last match in Dubai on March 31.
Pakistan are ranked fifth on the ICC ODI team rankings, while Australia are sixth – just two points behind.
The series is part of both sides’ ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 preparations, where Australia will defend the title. Both the sides will square off against each other in Taunton on June 12.
“Australia are the world champions and this series will provide the Pakistan cricket team an opportunity to assess their World Cup preparations,” PCB International Cricket Director Zakir Khan said in a press release.
“The PCB was optimistic that it will be able to convince Cricket Australia to send its side for some matches after successfully staging high-profile bilateral international series and the Pakistan Super League matches in the past 18 months. But, we are disappointed for the enthusiastic and passionate cricket fans in Pakistan who will now have to wait for some more time before they can see the Australia cricket team live in action for the first time since 1998.
“However, the CA has confirmed that they will send their security expert to oversee the execution of security plans for the HBL PSL 2019 matches and bilateral series against other international sides in Pakistan, and will also speak with the ICC-recommended PCB security consultant. In the meantime, the CA have confirmed they will maintain regular contact with the ICC,” Zakir Khan added.
Lahore hosted the ICC World XI, also comprising Australia Test captain Tim Paine and fast bowler Ben Cutting, in September 2017 (refereed by Sir Richie Richardson of the ICC panel). A month later, Sri Lanka played a T20I at the same venue. In April 2018, Karachi was the venue for three-T20I series between the Windies and Pakistan (refereed by David Boon of the ICC panel). Last month, the Windies women’s team played three T20Is against Pakistan women’s team in Karachi.
The inaugural edition of the Pakistan Super League in 2016 was played in the United Arab Emirates, but the 2017 final was held in Lahore. Lahore and Karachi shared three matches between them in 2018, while eight matches are scheduled in the upcoming event which commences from February 14.
SMITH, WARNER BANS TO EXPIRE:
The series will see the bans handed out to Steven Smith and David Warner in ball tampering incident expire.
The scheduling of the series has long been a subject of interest, partly because of the PCB’s hopes of organising at least part of it in Pakistan, which would have meant Australia’s first visit to the country in over 20 years. But its timing is important because it could be the scene of the returns to international cricket of Warner and – injury permitting – Smith.
The final two games will take place in Dubai, with the third ODI in Abu Dhabi. March 29, when the fourth ODI is to be played, is the first day Smith and Warner become available again after the bans imposed on them in the wake of the Newlands ball-tampering scandal. Smith though isn’t expected to feature, still recovering from an elbow injury that also ruled him out of the PSL.