Mohali, Ahmedabad and Bangalore to host Pakistan Tests
The venues of the three Tests and five one-day internationals for Pakistan's tour of India, which starts next month, have been announced. According to the rotation policy followed by the Indian board, Delhi, Mohali and Ahmedabad were in line to host the Tests. However, with Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium still undergoing renovation, Bangalore got the opportunity to stage its second Test of the season, having hosted the Australians in October.
Pakistan, who will arrive on February 25, will also play a five-match one-day series in Kochi, Vishakapatnam, Kanpur, Jamshedpur and New Delhi. Though the dates for the matches have been announced, the order in which they will be played will be decided only after the Indian government cleared the itinerary.
Ahmedabad could come under scrutiny from Pakistani security experts after the state of Gujarat was hit by communal riots as recently as three years ago. According to Kamal Morarka, chairman of the fixtures committee of the BCCI, "It is up to the government to consider since it is an India-Pakistan matter. A Pakistan security team will tour the venues before their cricket board gives its approval."
India currently have nine Test venues, with each ground given an opportunity on a rotation basis. Of these nine, six have already hosted a Test in the 2004-05 season - Bangalore, Chennai, Nagpur and Mumbai staged Tests against Australia, while South Africa played at Kanpur and Kolkata.
The last time Pakistan toured India, in 1998-99, Delhi hosted a historic match in which Anil Kumble took all ten wickets in Pakistan's second innings and guided India to a huge win. That was Pakistan's second loss in four Tests in Delhi. Given their record in Bangalore - two draws and a win in three matches - Pakistan would be only too happy to skip Delhi and play in Bangalore instead.
Pakistan will start the tour with a three-day warm-up game from February 27, while the first Test will start on March 4.