Australia in Pakistan, 2007--08 January 21, 2008

Australia could play in Karachi

Cricinfo staff



South Africa played a Test in Karachi last year, paving the city's return to international cricket © Getty Images
 

Karachi is scheduled to host a match when Australia visit Pakistan in March - their first tour of the country in ten years. Though the itinerary will only be finalised at some point within the next month, the tentative schedule includes the port city as a venue. It is not yet known whether the city will host a Test match, an ODI, or both.

Australia are scheduled to play three Tests, five one-dayers and a Twenty20 international on the tour, though whether or not the tour goes ahead will only be decided after a security delegation has visited Pakistan, one week after general elections are held in the country on February 18.

"We haven't finalised an itinerary yet - that will be done within the next month," Nasim Ashraf, chairman of the PCB, told reporters. "Karachi is on the tentative itinerary that we have drawn up, however."

In the aftermath of 9/11, Karachi often missed out on international cricket due to continuing security concerns, but India's visit in 2003-04, to play an ODI, paved the way for its return on the international map. Its rehabilitation was seemingly complete last year when South Africa, who had refused to play there in 2003, played a warm-up match and a Test.

Ashraf also elaborated on Pakistan's decision to insure the tour as precaution in case Australia do pull out. "Our first aim is to cover financial losses," he said. "This is the first time we have insured a single series and it was a reasonable step. This should not be seen as a message to Australia that they can pull out just because we are financially covered."

A local paper reported recently that the Australian High Commission in Islamabad had sent a favourable report back to Australia, concluding that the Australian team will be under no specific threat if and when they visit.

"Anything can happen anywhere. During the Ashes series of 2005, the 7/7 bombings happened and the tour went on," Ashraf said. "The same should happen here in Pakistan."