West Indies are set to become the latest international team to tour Pakistan. Najam Sethi, the PCB chairman, has announced that they will visit the country for a series of three T20Is, all of them to be played in Karachi. *These matches were originally scheduled for April 1, 2 and 4 but the final one has been pulled forward by a day so as not to clash with the death anniversary of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
These will be the first international matches in Karachi since the 2009 attacks on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore brought international cricket in Pakistan to a virtual halt. Pakistan have played nearly all their "home" matches in the UAE since then. There has been a slow trickle of international teams returning to Pakistan since 2015, with Zimbabwe, a World XI, and most recently Sri Lanka making short visits for limited-overs games, but all of them were confined to the Gadaffi Stadium in Lahore. Karachi is also set to host the final of the ongoing Pakistan Super League.
"I have been working day and night to conclude an agreement with West Indies which I have just finalised an hour ago," Sethi said. "Good news is that West Indies will play three games, on [April, 1, 2 and 3], but these matches will be played in Karachi. They will not play in Lahore but in Karachi. That is how we intend to put Karachi back on the cricket map once again. The PSL final, and now three more games for Karachi as per routine. Karachi people should welcome this."
Sethi said Reg Dickason, the ICC's security consultant, would visit Karachi during the PSL final to look at the security arrangements for the series.
"Reg DIckason and his men will be here during the PSL final and we have contracted them to oversee the West Indies games as well," Sethi said. "Their expert will stay back for seven days and conduct the security for West Indies series. This is part of our agreement with the West Indies board. This will be a one-off series, since, as I told you before, it will be a loss-making enterprise. The idea wasn't to make money; it was to bring cricket back, so this is a step in that direction.
"We have a separate agreement with the West Indies in which we are exploring a tri-lateral series including Pakistan, West Indies and one other country, which will be played in the USA over next five years. The details about the venues, dates, financial model will be discussed later but in principle it has decided that three countries will play in the USA."
Sethi had last year announced a five-year plan that involved the West Indies touring Pakistan every year until 2022, but in January walked back on that claim due to the costs involved.
*The article has been updated to reflect a change in schedule