Encouraged by the positive response on the revival of international cricket in Pakistan, Najam Sethi, the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, said his big targets for a bilateral series in the country are South Africa and Bangladesh.
Pakistan successfully hosted Sri Lanka for a Twenty20 International in Lahore on Sunday (October 29), their four international activity since the terrorists attacks of 2009 meant international cricket was suspended in the country over security fears.
The revival began with Zimbabwe playing a limited-overs series in 2015, and 2016 saw the Pakistan Super League final, a three-match T20I series with a World XI and the Sri Lanka T20I – the last match of a three-game series – all held in Lahore.
Sethi said taking small steps had paid off for the PCB.
“We took gradual steps and they have been successful,” said Sethi. “We can invite Ireland or Afghanistan but I am targeting big fish, so I am aiming to invite South Africa or Bangladesh for a bigger series in the next two years.”
Sethi added that a schedule for three T20Is with Windies, the world champions, is due to be finalised in the next three days. While sources said the West Indies Players Association was objecting to the tour citing security fears, Sethi said Cricket West Indies were demanding a reciprocal series.
“CWI is asking for a returns series so we told them that we can play Twenty20 matches in 2019, which will be late for them. So the other option is that we could share the revenues of the series in Lahore,” said Sethi.
Apart from international cricket, Sethi said the PCB were also considering hosting the final of the third edition of the PSL in Karachi instead of Lahore.
Last month, Sethi had announced that three play-off matches and the final would be in Lahore, while four games would be held in Karachi.
There was enormous pressure on the PCB to host international and PSL matches in cities other than Karachi, with people even commenting that international cricket was revived in Lahore, and not Pakistan.
Shahid Afridi and Javed Miandad, both former Pakistan captains, had also called for matches to be held in Karachi and Multan.
Forced by the criticism, PCB initiated a security assessment of Karachi’s National Stadium last week, and also started refurbishment work which is expected to take four months.
Sethi also visited Karachi last week and inspected the stadium. On Tuesday, Sethi said PCB were considering the option of hosting the PSL final in Karachi.
“After all the assessment, we are considering hosting the final of the PSL in Karachi and the play-offs in Lahore,” Sethi told the media in Lahore.