Pakistan welcomed Test cricket on their shores for the first time in a decade as the first Test of the two-match series against Sri Lanka kicked off at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. This is the first time that a Test match is being played in Pakistan ever since those dastardly terror attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009.
Ironically, it is Sri Lankan who has become the first visiting team to play Test cricket in Pakistan. But, the International Cricket Council isn’t taking any risks as far as security is concerned.
And, so the apex-cricketing body has sent two different sets of match-officials for the two Tests in Rawalpindi and National Stadium Karachi. Michael Gough, Richard Kettleborough and Richard Illingworth and match referee Andrew Pycroft ) who are currently officiating in the ongoing Rawalpindi Test landed in Pakistan from Dubai on Tuesday (via Emirates flight EK-612).
But the officials are set to travel back to Dubai (via EK-613) on December 16, after the end of the first Test in Rawalpindi, as reported by bdcrictime.com. For the second Test match at the National Stadium in Karachi, a fresh set of match-officials: Jeff Crowe (match referee), and umpires: Bruce Oxenford, Joel Wilson, and Gregory Brathwaite, will be then making their way to Pakistan to take charge.
All neutral umpires to officiate for the first time in Pakistan since 2009
In recent years, Pakistan has hosted limited-overs Internationals where teams like Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, West Indies, and World XI have travelled to the terror-savaged nation to show that cricket can indeed be played in the country.
In all those fixtures, one neutral and one local umpire used to officiate One-dayers while the Twenty20 fixtures were headed by both local officials. So, in a first since those terror attacks in Lahore, all the umpires officiating the two Tests will be neutral.
Meanwhile, the first day of the Rawalpindi Test turned to be rollercoaster. Pakistan bowlers looked flat in the first session as the Sri Lankan openers – Dimuth Karunaratne (59) and Osahada Fernando (40)- notched up a 96-run-opening stand. But the bowlers came back well in the post-lunch session when they claimed 4-48 in 24 overs to wrestle the momentum in their favour.
The final session turned out to be an engrossing affair as Angelo Matthews (31) and Dhananjaya de Silva (38*) notched up a defiant 62-run-stand before Naseem Shah saw off Matthews.
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