England set to tour Pakistan for T20I series in 2021
England are set to tour Pakistan for a two-match T20I series in October 2021, as part of preparations for the impending T20 World Cup. Notably, this will their first trip to the nation in 16 years. Earlier, the tour, which was tentatively scheduled for January-February, had to be postponed due to unavailability of marquee players and cost-related matters. Here is more.
Karachi will host the two T20Is
The two T20 Internationals will take place at the Karachi National Stadium on October 14 and 15. As of now, England will arrive in Pakistan two days before the series begins, and depart for the T20 World Cup in India on October 16.
Here is why the series was postponed
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had initially invited England to tour the nation in January. However, England are already due to play a Test series against Sri Lanka at that time, while a number of first-choice limited-overs players have signed deals to play in the Big Bash League. Hence, the two boards chose October as a more feasible time for conducting the series.
England last toured Pakistan in 2005/06
England haven't toured Pakistan for any international assignment in 16 years. In 2005/06, they competed in the Test and ODI series, having lost both (0-2 and 2-3 respectively). Following the terrorist attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009, Pakistan's home series against England (in 2012 and 2015) were played in the UAE for security reasons.
International cricket is gradually returning to Pakistan
That apart, international cricket is gradually returning to Pakistan. Earlier this year, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka visited the nation for a respective series. Even the 2020 edition of Pakistan Super League was held in Pakistan, the whole season this time. Notably, South Africa and New Zealand are also scheduled to tour Pakistan in 2021, with Australia having similar commitments for early 2022.
PCB delighted with England's payback
Interestingly, England's short tour serves as a payback to PCB for sending a team during the English summer, amid the COVID-19 outburst. "The series will allow leading England cricketers to access the world-class arrangements we will put together, which will give them further confidence to not only return in 2022/23, but also express their interest in PSL," said PCB Chief Executive, Wasim Khan.