The first one day international between Pakistan and Sri Lanka on Friday was abandoned due to rain.
It was also meant to be the first ODI in Karachi for 10 years. The toss was scheduled at 2:30 pm local time (0930 GMT) was postponed with the pitch soaked.
Later, the umpires called off the match as there were pools of water around the outfield with the pitch and adjoining area covered.
Karachi last hosted an ODI in January 2009 when Sri Lanka played two back-to-back matches at the National Stadium.
The remaining two ODIs will be played in Karachi on Sunday and Wednesday.
Heavy showers began as soon the teams were whisked into the National Stadium under tight security in the afternoon.
The two teams will also play three Twenty20 internationals in Lahore on October 5, 7 and 9.
Babar Azam cannot wait to take to the field on home soil for the first time as vice-captain of Pakistan on Friday.
Cricket is ‘coming home’ to the country in what is the biggest international tour since the 2009 terror attack in Lahore, that targeted the Sri Lankan team’s bus.
Now, a full decade later, Sri Lanka are scheduled to play three ODIs and three T20s in the country, starting on Friday with the first ODI at the National Stadium in Karachi.
A full generation of cricketers have come and gone since regular international cricket was last held in Pakistan, and Babar is a leading light of the current youth movement in the team.
All fun and games in Karachi! Sri Lankan and Pakistan players enjoy a game of carrom. Let's see who can strike the best!#PAKvSL action to being on Friday.— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) September 25, 2019
Get your tickets now: https://t.co/3o3ee6QF4i pic.twitter.com/GS1rKcMYtv
The star batsmen – who averages a superb 53.55 in the ODI format – has many memories of watching Pakistan play in Karachi, and now he can’t wait to make his own for the millions of fans who will be watching on Friday.
“I can’t thank enough for the love and respect I have received from all my fans in the early days of my career,” said Azam, who has played just one prior ODI in Pakistan. “Friday will be one of my biggest days when I will take the field as Pakistan vice-captain. I will want the entire country as well as the National Stadium crowd to make this a day to remember for me.
“As a youngster, I have seen on television packed-to-capacity National Stadium for ODIs and the two matches that immediately come to my mind are the 2004 and 2008 ODIs against India. In 2004, Pakistan lost by five runs despite Inzamam-ul-Haq’s brilliant century but four years later, Younis Khan’s belligerent 123 not out steered us to eight wickets victory,” said Babar.
“As professional athletes, we need our fans to be behind us to motivate and inspire us.”
The return of international cricket to Pakistan is set to accelerate in the coming year, according to PCB chief executive Wasim Khan.
Sri Lanka have flown out to play an ODI and T20 series starting Friday, in what is the most high-profile tour in Pakistan since the 2009 terror attack in Lahore that targeted the Sri Lankan team bus.
Ten senior Sri Lankan players have opted out of the tour citing security concerns, but the country’s defence ministry has since established there is no active threat to the team in Pakistan.
Wasim Khan – who was appointed by the PCB as its chief executive last December – believes this is just the start of a fully-fledged return of international matches on home soil for Pakistan, having hosted the bulk of their matches in the UAE over the past decade.
Dawn report that talks with Bangladesh are ongoing over a tour in January 2020, while Khan insists there have been encouraging signs from the powers-that-be from cricket boards such as Australia and England.
“Look, the Sri Lankan tour is also important because there is nothing better and more effective than word of mouth to convince people,” Khan told Dawn. “There is a huge difference between perception and reality and, Insha’Allah, when the Sri Lankan players return from Pakistan, they will surely be speaking positively about the safe and conducive playing conditions in Pakistan.
“The coming matches are sort of a litmus test given our endeavour to bring international cricket back into our country. Recently, Kevin Roberts and Sean Connell of Cricket Australia were here. They were very pleased with what they experienced during their brief stay. We are hopeful Australia would play in Pakistan during the 2022 schedule series against us.
“Then, of course, the England and Wales Cricket Board’s CEO Tom Harrison is arriving next month and his visit will coincide with the T20 games against SL. So things are moving in the right direction and I am very optimistic about our efforts bearing fruit.”
Sri Lanka National team left SLC head quarters this morning to embark on their tour to Pakistan.— Sri Lanka Cricket 🇱🇰 (@OfficialSLC) September 24, 2019
Sri Lanka will play a three-match ODI series in Karachi and three T20Is in Lahore. #PAKvSL pic.twitter.com/tiaTSxgpNh
It remains unclear whether Sri Lanka will accept visiting Pakistan for the two-Test series, which is slated for December. Sri Lanka’s sports minister Harin Fernando ruled the possibility out in August, but Khan is holding out hope.
“The most important thing is that a full-fledged international series of matches is going to place in Pakistan after a long gap, and we are hoping that other teams also take a cue from Sri Lanka and visit Pakistan in the near future,” he added.
“At this point in time, we are extremely grateful to Sri Lanka for honouring the commitment to play a bilateral series in Pakistan. It is a 13-day tour which is the longest by a team since 2009.
“Hopefully, the planned Test series against Sri Lanka [now rescheduled to December] is also staged in our country rather than on a neutral territory.”