BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
DESPITE prematurely ending their national women’s cricket tour last week due to departure flight complications, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has confirmed that that their men’s side’s tour of Zimbabwe for two Tests and three T20Is in April will go ahead as originally planned.
The PCB and Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) last week mutually agreed to end their women’s limited-overs series in Harare after just one game following Emirates Airlines’ announcement that it would cease operations on the Harare-Dubai route from February 13 to 28.
The Pakistan women’s team was originally scheduled to leave on February 21.
Regardless of the premature end to their women’s team’s tour, the PCB confirmed that their men’s tour of Zimbabwe, which will commence on April 17 soon after their tour of South Africa would not be affected.
“It has been a difficult decision considering Zimbabwe Cricket had put in place excellent arrangements for the series. “But the decision by Emirates Airlines to suspend all flights to and from Harare from 13 February to 28 February has meant that we have to bring the squad back in the next 24 hours.
“We thank Zimbabwe Cricket for their understanding and support, and hope to return at some stage to complete this additional tour.
“Pakistan men’s national cricket team’s tour of Zimbabwe in April as part of the Future Tours Programme (FTP) for two Tests and three T20Is remains intact, though the PCB will continue to monitor the flight and Covid-19 situation. “The side is scheduled to arrive in Bulawayo on 17 April,” the PCB said.
The Pakistan cricket authorities said the Zimbabwe tour will take place soon after their April tour of South Africa during which they will play three ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League matches.
In addition to the three ODIs, which will count towards automatic qualification for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, Pakistan will also play four T20Is.
Pakistan’s confirmation is a major boost for ZC following the postponement of the visit by Ireland, which was scheduled for between March and April.
Zimbabwe is currently preparing for a series against Afghanistan to be played in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of next month where they will play a two-Test and three-T20I series starting on March 2.
It will mark the first time Zimbabwe and Afghanistan play each other in Test cricket following the granting of Test status to the Afghans in June 2017.
There was speculation that the series would be played in Oman with Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) officials exploring the possibility due to recent visa troubles with UAE that put the series against Ireland at risk.
However, ACB officials told Cricbuzz that they were confident that they will get the required visas on time to take part in the series in UAE that will mark their comeback to Test cricket after a gap of 15 months.
“We will play the series against Zimbabwe in Abu Dhabi (and not in Oman),” ACB media manager Hikmat Hassan confirmed to Cricbuzz. “We want to extend our visa and hopefully we will get in one week. We have a one-month visa but that will expire and that is why we are trying to extend another visa. We have promises of Cricket Abu Dhabi and our consulate that the visa will be issued,” he said.
The first Test will be on March 2 while the second Test will be played from March 10. The three T20s will be played on March 17, 19 and 20 respectively.