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The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), on Monday (February 11), announced the schedule of their upcoming five-match ODI series against Australia. The PCB confirmed that the entire series will be played in UAE, starting from March 22. The schedule also confirmed that the bans handed out to Steven Smith and David Warner will end in the middle of the series.
The scheduled was delayed as PCB was keen on hosting few games in Pakistan. The series can now mark the return of Warne and Smith, if he gets fit in time, to international cricket. The five-match series will end on March 31, three days after the Smith and Warner’s ban ends. The duo is currently serving the one-year ban imposed on them for the ball-tampering scandal last year.
Their ban will end on March 28 which means they will be eligible to play the last two ODIs on March 29 and 31. But while David Warner is more than likely to make his much-awaited return to the series, Steve Smith is unlikely to do so. The former Australia skipper is currently recovering from an elbow injury that has also ruled him out of the Pakistan Super League. He had suffered the injury during the Bangladesh Premier League and recently underwent an operation for the same.
PCB director Zakir Khan, meanwhile, expressed his disappointment over PCB not being able to convince Cricket Australia to play in Pakistan.
“The PCB was optimistic it would be able to convince Cricket Australia to send its side for some matches after successfully staging high-profile bilateral international series and the HBL Pakistan Super League matches in the past 18 months,” Khan said. “We are disappointed for the enthusiastic and passionate cricket fans in Pakistan who will now have to wait for some more time before they can see the Australia cricket team live in action for the first time since 1998.
“However, the CA has confirmed that they will send their security expert to oversee the execution of security plans for the HBL PSL 2019 matches and bilateral series against other international sides in Pakistan, and will also speak with the ICC-recommended PCB security consultant. In the meantime, the CA have confirmed they will maintain regular contact with the ICC,” Khan added.
In the last two-three years, the scene has improved in Pakistan. Last year, West Indies had visited the country for a three-match series in Karachi. Few months before that an ICC-approved World XI played three T20Is in September 2017 while Sri Lanka played a T20I the following month. Some games of Pakistan Super League have also been hosted in Pakistan.
Here is the schedule of the five-match series:
22 March – 1st ODI, Sharjah (d/n)
24 March – 2nd ODI, Sharjah (d/n)
27 March – 3rd ODI, Abu Dhabi (d/n)
29 March – 4th ODI, Dubai (d/n)
31 March – 5th ODI, Dubai (d/n)