The UAE will continue to remain the ‘home’ of Pakistan cricket in the near future after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) arrived at an agreement.
UAE has been hosting Pakistan’s home matches since 2009 when a terrorist attack on the touring Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore left six players injured. Following that major incident, international cricket at Pakistan had come to a standstill with teams refusing to tour the country in light of the worsening security apparatus.
Pakistan has continued to hold its international home matches at Abu Dhabi and Dubai since then as well as the Pakistan Super League (PSL). While the majority of Pakistan’s home matches have continued to be held in the UAE, international cricket has been returning to Pakistan in a big way in recent times.
After the ICC World XI visited Lahore for a three-match T20I series last year, more international sides have slowly followed suit. Sri Lanka played a one-off T20I in Lahore in 2017 while the West Indies toured the country for a three-match series earlier this year.
The PSL too, has seen some big clashes take place back home in Pakistan in the past two editions. While the inaugural edition in 2016 was held completely in the UAE, the finals of the 2017 edition was specially staged at the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore with several international stars making the trip.
In the last edition of the PSL, all the knock-out clashes were held back in Pakistan with the National Stadium in Karachi hosting the final. The PCB’s ultimate aim is to obviously bring back international cricket to Pakistan in its entirety, however, the UAE has continued to serve as a stop-gap measure.
In recent times, there has been friction between the two boards after the Afghanistan Premier League was announced to be held in the UAE in October at the same time as Pakistan’s home series against Australia and New Zealand.
With the rise of T10 and T20 leagues being held in the UAE, there had been uncertainty over whether the country will accommodate Pakistan’s busy international calendar completely. With this in mind, PCB chief Najam Sethi had also started exploring alternative options to the UAE with Malaysia being touted as a possible home venue. The PCB supremo had paid a visit to the South East Asian country too recently to inspect the facilities at hand.
Those doubts were dispelled on Tuesday when the two bodies reached an agreement in which the UAE will host Pakistan matches at a reduced cost.
“The PCB and ECB (Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) have held fruitful discussions on matters of mutual interest,” a joint statement from the two cricketing bodies read.
“The ECB has committed to a significant reduction of the costs to Pakistan Cricket Board of holding tournaments with immediate effect,” the statement went on to add.
According to the new agreement, the UAE governing body will not host any other concurrent leagues in the country during Pakistan’s international matches and the PSL.
With No1 ranked ODI side England defying all run-scoring norms in recent times with their exploits against Australia during their recent 5-0 series whitewash over Australia, one would expect opposition bowlers to fear the worst when lining up against Eoin Morgan’s men.
Virat Kohli’s men, who are currently in Ireland to play two T20Is, will take on England in three T20Is followed by as many ODIs before starting the five-match Test series in August.
Chahal believes conditions will be much different when India arrive in England for the limited-overs clashes.
“England scored those runs against Australia, not against us. The pitches are going to be a little different. England’s spinners took the majority of the wickets and we have that advantage as well,” he said on the eve of the first T20I between Ireland and India at Dublin.
England had broken their own world-record for the highest ODI total by smashing 481-6 against the Aussies. Batsmen like Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Alex Hales and Jos Buttler have been in sensational hitting form for some time now.
According to Chahal, the variations possessed by India’s spin contingent will ensure that England’s batsmen do not get a free run at the India bowling.
“We have more variations (compared to other spinners). With left-arm spinners, you will find only the straighter ones and the normal left-arm spin,” he stated.
“With leg-spinners, we have four variations – the top-spin, googlies, leg-spinner, the flipper and the batsmen keep thinking what the next ball would be. If you don’t read us off our hands, it is good for us,” Chahal added.
India will take on Ireland in the first of the two T20I at Dublin on Wednesday before playing their second clash at the same venue on June 29. Following that, the squad will return to England for the limited-overs clashes against the hosts.
The 29-year-old India star has already signed a contract with Lancashire Thunder according to a report by ESPNCricinfo and will be travelling to England on July 15. The KSL outfit are yet to make the announcement public as of yet.
This will be Harmanpreet’s first stint in the KSL after an injury sustained during the 2017 ICC Women’s World Cup put paid to her hopes of turning out for the Surrey Stars last year.
She will become the second Indian cricketer to participate in the KSL in the coming season after Smriti Mandhana was bought by defending champions Western Storm.
The all-rounder shot to fame with her stupendous innings of 171 against Australia in the semi-finals of the ICC World Cup in England last year following which her contract with Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) outfit Sydney Thunder was extended by two years.
She finished as the Player-of-the-tournament in the recently concluded Asia Cup where India finished runners-up to Bangladesh. Hamrampreet has scored 156 runs in four innings during the tournament.
She will join up with her former Sydney Thunder skipper Alex Blackwell at Lancashire with the former Australia vice-captain taking up the role of the head coach with the outfit.
Harmanpreet has so far in her career played two Tests, 87 ODIs and 81 T20Is for the Indian women ever since she made her debut for the country in July, 2009.