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Pakistan to allow 25% capacity crowds for New Zealand series

Only spectators who have been fully vaccinated will be allowed to attend the games in Rawalpindi and Lahore

Umar Farooq
Umar Farooq
People queue up outside the gates at the Gaddafi stadium, Peshawar Zalmi v Quetta Gladiators, final, PSL 2017, Lahore, March 5, 2017

People queue up outside the gates at the Gaddafi stadium for the PSL final  •  ESPNcricinfo Ltd./Umar Farooq

Pakistan has decided to allow spectators up to 25% capacity for the home series against New Zealand in Rawalpindi and Lahore next month. Only spectators who have been fully vaccinated, however, will be permitted to attend.
The three ODIs, all taking place in Rawalpindi, will be open to 4500 spectators each. The five T20Is, all at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, will accommodate 5500 spectators each.
"Spectators are the essence of any sport event as they create an ambience and atmosphere for the players to excel, perform and enjoy. In this background, we are grateful to the NCOC for allowing the PCB to invite 25 per cent crowds for the eight matches," PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan said in a statement. "I am sure following the NCOC decision, unvaccinated cricket followers will expedite their vaccination process so that they can witness the first series on home soil between the two sides since 2003.
"This will be an opportunity for the spectators to not only enjoy some quality cricket in the season-opening series but also support and back players from either side as the ODIs count towards the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 qualification, while the T20Is will lead into the ICC T20 World Cup."
New Zealand will arrive in Islamabad on September 11 as Pakistan strive to host more international teams at home. After nearly a decade of almost complete isolation, a trickle of foreign tours has seen international cricket gradually return to the country.
A successful New Zealand tour will further strengthen Pakistan's case to host all international cricket at home. Visits from South Africa, West Indies, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and a World XI side have gone off without a hitch over the past four years. The PCB is also set to host Australia - who have not played in Pakistan since 1999 - and are keen to host ICC events in the 2024-2031 cycle.
Several New Zealand first team players, including skipper Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson and Lockie Ferguson will be unavailable owing to their involvement in the IPL, which clashes with part of the tour. Tom Latham will captain the visitors in Williamson's absence. All the New Zealand players and staff have been vaccinated. Pakistan have not yet named their squad for the series.
Earlier this year, plans to allow crowds at the PSL in March had to be scrapped after a surge in Covid-19 cases in Pakistan and bio-bubble breaches led to the postponement of the league. Coronavirus cases in Pakistan remain relatively high, with the country undergoing a fourth wave of infections. However, vaccination rates have sped up, with every adult eligible to receive one.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent