Why the PCB had to pick Rawalpindi to host Sri Lanka

Pakistan

Day 1: 68 overs of play
Day 2: 17.5 overs
Day 3: 5.2 overs
Day 4: Called off without a ball (teams remained at hotel)
Day 5: Predictable draw

Nine sessions of the Rawalpindi Test were effectively washed out but a full house still turned up for the final day’s play and they were treated to a remarkable innings from Abid Ali. The 32-year old became the first male cricketer to score a century on both his Test and ODI debuts but even his performance couldn’t distract from the fact that the return of Test cricket to Pakistan – the end of 10 years of exile – literally turned into a washout.

No ground outside of Rawalpindi and Karachi was considered to host the Sri Lanka Tests, although originally the series itself was expected to take place in October, the best time for cricket in Pakistan.

So, over the last four days as rain doused the prospect of an outright result, the PCB has been under the spotlight for their choice of venue. The last 10 Test matches played in northern Punjab in the month of December have all failed to produce a result with an exception of one game against Zimbabwe in 1993. There was one Test in Faisalabad which was abandoned without a ball bowled. Another, in Gujranwala, had weather that was good enough for only 36 overs of cricket.

Even so, Rawalpindi was the best option available to them. Multan, Faisalabad and Peshawar have not been upgraded well enough to host international cricket again. Lahore and Karachi do but one city is experiencing heavy smog and the other will host the second Test on Thursday.

In the aftermath of the 2009 attacks, logistics – direct flights in and out – and security clearances play a huge part in any match that is played in Pakistan. PCB had prioritised getting Lahore and Karachi ready first and had only recently invited ICC security consultant Reg Dickason to assess the state of affairs in Rawalpindi. Multan is next on the list; it is currently being considered to host four games in PSL 2020. Peshawar is already under renovation. Faisalabad, however, is yet to receive much attention.

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