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Pakistan to host home tests for first time in decade

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By Reuters

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Pakistan will play a test match on home soil for the first time in more than 10 years when Sri Lanka tour the country for a two-match series next month, the country’s cricket board (PCB) said on Thursday.

Pakistan has not hosted a test match since a 2009 militant attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore left six security personnel and two civilians dead and six players injured.

Pakistan did not host any international cricket for six years after the attack, with the team playing their home matches in the United Arab Emirates.

“This is fabulous news for Pakistan and its reputation of being as safe and secure as any other country in the world,” said Zakir Khan, the PCB’s director of international cricket, in a statement.

Pakistan has hosted a number of limited-overs internationals in recent years, with Sri Lanka playing three one-dayers and three Twenty20 matches there in September and October, though 10 key players opted out of that trip citing security concerns.

A Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) source told Reuters there was some apprehension about touring Pakistan for the limited-over series but concerns have since eased.

“The board is looking at sending a full-strength team for the test series,” the source added.

The first test will be held at Rawalpindi from Dec. 11-15 while Karachi will host the second from Dec. 19-23, the PCB said.

SLC Chief Executive Ashley de Silva said it was time for test cricket to return to Pakistan.

“We are pleased to confirm our return visit to Pakistan as, based on our earlier visit, we are comfortable and convinced conditions are suitable and conducive for test cricket,” he said.

“We also believe all cricket playing countries should host international cricket at home and in this relation we are happy to play our part in complete resumption of international cricket in Pakistan …”

The two boards had agreed to bring forward the limited-overs leg of the split series and pushed back the two tests, which were originally set to take place in October.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Peter Rutherford)