Foggy conditions likely to force second Pakistan vs New Zealand Test out of Multan

Karachi could be the likeliest alternative, with the first Test as well as the subsequent ODIs all scheduled there

Danyal Rasool
Danyal Rasool
General shot of Multan Cricket Stadium, December 12, 2022

Multan could miss out on hosting the second Test against New Zealand in early January  •  Getty Images

The second Test between Pakistan and New Zealand is likely to be moved out of Multan because of the severe fog and smog expected in the area in early January. ESPNcricinfo understands that formal talks are on between the two boards on the matter. The game is scheduled to begin on January 3.
While it is not yet clear what the new venue will be, Karachi could be the easiest to switch to, since it is the venue for the first Test between the sides, which begins on December 26, and conditions there are expected to be better.
Multan hosted the second Test between Pakistan and England in early December, and while there were no visibility-related interruptions then, air quality was notably worse than it was in Rawalpindi, where the first Test was played. The flight to Multan was, in fact, delayed by almost four hours because of fog, and visibility early in the morning was significantly lower than normal.
However, the sun did burn away most of the fog by the time play started, at 10am local time, and there were no delays on that front. Since then, though, Multan has been overcast and that is expected to continue. On several occasions over the past week, the motorway from Lahore to Multan has been closed to traffic for several hours due to foggy conditions
Lahore cannot be an alternative venue for the same reason, with visibility even lower and air quality levels comparable to the worst in the world. On Friday, Lahore's AQI read 500, according to IQAir. That's around 25 times above the acceptable level. Forget visibility, playing cricket there could be a health hazard too.
That effectively leaves Karachi and Rawalpindi as the only realistic options, with facilities in the rest of the country not equipped to host Test cricket at such short notice.
The three-match ODI series that follows the Tests will also take place in Karachi, so shifting the second Test there would mean that the entire tour is held in one city.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000