Fewer ODIs likely in Pakistan-Australia series
Pakistan's home series of limited-over games against Australia is likely to be reduced to a mix of three ODIs (instead of five ODIs) and three Twenty20 internationals, with the UAE remaining the most likely venue. Plans for more Twenty20 games - as reported by ESPNcricinfo yesterday - have come unstuck because of a time crunch to get the ICC's approval as required.
The series, according to PCB sources, will be held after the month of Ramadan, which ends on August 18; giving both teams practice ahead of the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, which begins on September 18. To beat the summer heat, the matches are likely to be held in the late evening, with the ODIs starting at 5 pm and the Twenty20 games at 7 pm.
"Plan is to play three ODIs and three T20Is," Intikhab Alam, the PCB's director for international operations, told reporters on Wednesday. "I have given my assessment reports about both venues [UAE and Malaysia] and the announcement will be made within this week."
Any Twenty20 series comprising more than three matches requires the ICC's permission; though the idea of a five-game series is open for discussion in the ICC Executive Board meeting later this month, formal approval might take some more time - which the boards don't have.
"We've always said to Pakistan this is your home, come and play when you want to and we make it cost-effective for them," Dilawar Mani, the chief executive of the Emirates cricket board, told ESPNcricinfo. "Yes it's going to be hot and humid, but heat is not as much of an issue as the humidity is."
"Humidity will be a factor, so we proposed a start later in the evening instead of 3 pm for ODIs," added Mani.
"We usually arrange late starts for our domestic tournament during Ramadan and I don't see any logistical problem there," he said. "In fact, arranging matches in evening works better - we can pull in bigger crowds as the offices close around 4 pm. So people can easily turn to the stadium after finishing their work."
Sri Lanka had originally emerged as a likely venue for the Pakistan-Australia series, but withdrew when it became apparent that the dates would clash with the Sri Lanka Premier League. Alam visited Malaysia and the UAE to assess options and, though weather is an issue in both places in August, the possibility of rain in Malaysia goes against it. Though the monsoon season is at its peak from November to February in Malaysia, August proves to be the wettest month on the west coast and could disrupt the series.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent