International Test cricket will return to Pakistan after a hiatus of ten years and nine months when Sri Lanka will lock horns with the Men in Green in the two ICC World Test championship fixtures in Rawalpindi and Karachi from December 11. And, now the International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced the appointment of match officials for the historic series.
The on-field officials will consist of Richard Kettleborough and Michael Gough while England’s Richard Illingworth and Pakistan’s Shoaib Raza will be serving as the third and fourth umpire respectively. Andy Pycroft will spearhead the playing control room for the opening Test in Rawalpindi, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said in an official statement.
As far as the second Test- set to be held between 19 and 23 December- at National Stadium in Karachi is concerned, Jeff Crowe will serve as the match-referee, while the on-field duties will be performed by Joe Wilson and Bruce Oxenford. Gregory Brathwaite and Shoaib Raza will take over as third and fourth umpire respectively.
A chance for Pakistan to redeem themselves in front of the home fans
This will be the first time that a Test match will be played on Pakistan soil this decade. Following the dastardly terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus- one that left several players injured- during the 2009 Test series, meant International cricket was stalled in Pakistan.
Since then, Pakistan had to play their home Test matches in England and then in the United Arab Emirates, and even though PCB did manage to rope in World XI outfits and teams like West Indies, Zimbabwe to tour the country for a series of white-ball internationals, bringing Test cricket back still seemed like a long shot.
A home series couldn’t have come at a better time for Pakistan. The Azhar Ali-led team is still reeling from the hammering they received at the hands of Australia and the comfort of familiar conditions is maybe what they need right now. But, Pakistan shouldn’t be complacent as for Sri Lanka are no pushovers, especially after the latter’s 3-0 win in the T20I series last September.
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