January 10, 2002

First Test in Sharjah from January 31

The first Test series at a neutral venue in modern day cricket between Pakistan and the West Indies would be played at Sharjah between Jan 31 and Feb 17, highly placed sources said.

The first Test has been slated between Jan 31 and Feb 4 while the second Test will be played between Feb 7 and 11.

The three one-day internationals will be played on alternate days on Feb 13, 15 and 17, sources added, saying the itinerary would be officially released soon.

The PCB Tuesday reluctantly agreed to host the West Indies in Sharjah after the once mighty team but now the whipping boys of international cricket refused to tour citing security concerns. Australia and South Africa last battled in a Test in a third country (England) almost 90 years ago while Pakistan hammered Sri Lanka in 1999 Asian Test Championship final at Dhaka.

Meanwhile, West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Wes Hall has expressed his delight over the shifting of the series to Sharjah.

"This is great news. My prayers have been answered. I thank the Lord for coming to our help, as he has done in ages past," Hall was quoted as saying in West Indies newspapers.

"This (series in Sharjah) is very OK with me. Bangladesh would have been OK as well, but most of our players have played in Sharjah more so than Bangladesh, so we should be more comfortable in Sharjah," Hall added. "I felt it would be a nicer thing for all concerned if they were to acquiesce to our suggestion, taken a while ago, to play at a neutral venue."