Pakistan confirms split series against Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka will split their tour to Pakistan over two legs in January and February, playing in total, three ODIs and two Tests. A gap in between of over two weeks thus paves the way for Sri Lanka to host a potential one-day series against India.
After much negotiation and tweaking of provisional itineraries, Sri Lanka will now arrive in Pakistan on January 18 to play three day-night ODIs, leave and then come back on February 14th to play two Tests.
"The ODIs will be played on January 21, 24 and 27 at Karachi, Lahore and Faisalabad respectively," Salim Altaf, chief operating officer PCB, told Cricinfo.
"They will then come back on February 14 to play two Tests in Karachi and Lahore. Those dates will be announced soon," he said.
The gap in between allows Sri Lanka to ink in a series against India, something their sports minister Gamini Lokuge said was "60% certain" recently. Though BCCI officials have confirmed that contact has been made unofficially with Sri Lanka for a possible ODI series in between, they maintain they will consider a series against Sri Lanka only after they get a response from New Zealand Cricket (NZC) on their request for an additional Test for India's tour in March. That series starts on March 6 and currently includes two Tests, five ODIs and one Twenty20.
Duleep Mendis, the SLC CEO, told Cricinfo that though they have prepared a split tour itinerary with a one-day series against India in mind, nothing has been officially firmed up yet. "We are still in the process of finalising the India series," Mendi said. "All I can say is that if that series goes ahead, it will happen in Sri Lanka."
The fixture scramble is essentially the result of India pulling out from their tour to Pakistan in January-February after the Indian government refused to grant the team permission to travel across the border. Relations between the two neighbours are at a low as a result of the Mumbai attacks last November.
Sri Lanka agreed to replace India and travel to cricket-starved Pakistan. But finalising the itinerary proved trickier than was originally forseen as the resulting gap in India's schedule meant they were also looking for ways to fill it, potentially through a series against Sri Lanka and the extra Test against New Zealand.