By: Chinmay Vaidya
After the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009 in Pakistan, the latter's future as a major player on the international circuit looked bleak. Criticism about security arrangements and general playing conditions in Pakistan came from anyone and everyone, resulting in the country losing its 2011 World Cup hosting rights and being boycotted by every other cricket board for home series. Pakistan was forced to "host" series in U.A.E., although an occasional match has been played in the country since the attacks.
A year ago, I noted how much Pakistan cricket has changed since 2009. The country, and more importantly the Pakistan Cricket Board, appears to have made the necessary reparations over the course of a decade to deserve tours once again. Zimbabwe came to Pakistan for a short ODI series in 2015. The West Indies took part in a T20 series. The Pakistan Super League, the country's domestic T20 franchise league, will potentially play a full season in Pakistan in 2020. However, it was going to take an extended tour to get the country back on the international calendar.
Enter Sri Lanka.
A decade after the initial attack, Sri Lanka will return to Pakistan for three ODIs and three T20s. This is the first extended tour of Pakistan since the fateful day in March, giving real hope for an eventual return on the international scene for PCB.
“The upcoming matches will end the long await of the Pakistan cricket fans and supporters to watch modern day stars from both sides live in action," PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani said in a statement. "This is something that will contribute immensely to our revamped domestic cricket structure."
Sri Lanka has undergone its own domestic problems in recent years with a "Golden Generation" disappearing and young players failing to step up. But in returning to Pakistan for what is essentially a trial run, it has shown more willpower and guts than any other board in the world.
This tour is replacing the two teams' scheduled Test fixtures, which were originally going to held as part of the inaugural World Test Championship. That series has now been shifted to December, but both countries saw an opportunity to make a different statement with the opening. Cricket has finally come full circle for Pakistan on the international stage.