England land in Pakistan after a 17-year gap amid tight security coverage
The England cricket team arrived in Pakistan early Sunday for the country’s first three Test runs since 2005.
England played the successful Twenty20 series two months ago in Pakistan but refused to play a Test match there for 17 years due to the precarious security situation.
They were due to visit Pakistan last year but pulled out after New Zealand abandoned their tour minutes before their first one-day international tour, citing security alerts.
There were fears of a similar withdrawal earlier this month in the wake of an attack on the former prime minister Omran Khan During a protest rally in Wazirabad, a city in Punjab province.
But England Test captain Ben Stokes dispelled all fears after positive security advice.
“It’s been a long time since England played Test cricket in Pakistan,” Stokes said in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
“In what’s happened with Imran Khan recently, there’s been a little bit of a worry, but we’ve got Reg Dickson, who’s been the security guy for many years with England, and we’ve left him in his capable hands.”
“In terms of the tour itself, I’m really looking forward to it,” Stokes added.
“I’ve never been there before, and I’m very interested to see what the security lark looks like. I’ve heard it’s very intense.”
The squad and support staff were taken to the team hotel under the tight security measures that Pakistan has had in place since the revival of international cricket in the country since 2015.
Pakistan was forced to play its home matches at neutral venues in the United Arab Emirates after the attacks on the Sri Lankan team in 2009.
But Pakistan has hosted multiple teams in the past seven years, most notably Australia earlier this year.
– compete for Globalism Test tournament –
The three-match series – part of the World Test Championship – kicks off in Rawalpindi from December 1 with the second Test in Multan (December 9-13) and the third in Karachi (December 17-21).
Pakistan, who are currently fifth in England’s nine-to-seven team tournament, will be hoping for a series win in order to finish in the top two to play the 2023 final.
Pakistan, led by star batsman Babar Azam, will be without fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi who suffers from a knee injury and is not selected due to poor form.
England’s fast bowler Mark Wood is doubtful in the first Test with a thigh injury while James Anderson, sole survivor of the 2005 tour but did not feature in the 2-0 defeat, would lead the attack.
Ben Stokes (Captain), James Anderson, Harry Brooke, Zak Crawley, Ben Duquette, Ben Fox, Will Jack, Keaton Jennings, Jack Leach, Liam Livingston, Jamie Overton, Olly Pope, Olly Robinson, Joe Root, Mark Wood, Rehan Ahmed .
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