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April 19, 2008
Australia will fulfill their commitment to tour Pakistan before they host the return series in late 2009, the Pakistan Cricket Board has revealed. However, given the constraints of the Future Tours Programme (FTP), it is likely that the Test and one-day legs will be split.
Australia, who haven't toured Pakistan since 1998-99, were originally scheduled to go to Pakistan in March, but postponed the trip due to security concerns. An official announcement of the revised programme is imminent.
"We have reached an agreement on the dates with Australia," Shafqat Naghmi, the PCB's chief operating officer, said. "We do not want to announce the final programme just yet, but I can confirm that they will carry out their commitments before Pakistan visits next year. The dates will be announced in the next couple of days." Pakistan are currently due to travel to Australia in November and December 2009.
It is expected Australia will first play five ODIs and a Twenty20 before coming back to complete their three-Test commitment. Naghmi refused to confirm the schedule, but hinted at the possibility. "If you look at the FTP between now and then," he said, "it is very difficult to find a free stretch of dates for the entire tour to be completed in one go."
The only window in the FTP until the end of this year for the ODIs appears to be in August or September, before the Champions Trophy begins in Pakistan. It would be an ideal warm-up for both sides as they gear up for the ICC tournament.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.