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Pakistan and South Africa are planning a Test and ODI series in the UAE later this year, according to media reports. Gerald Majola, the chief executive of Cricket South Africa, has agreed to the PCB's proposal of playing in the UAE but the schedule and the venues are yet to be finalised.
"UAE has always been a viable cricket venue," Majola told Gulf News. "We have played in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi before and we are looking forward to playing in the new stadium at the Dubai Sports City.
"We have not yet finalised the itinerary. We have been exploring options of playing in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah but no decision has been taken."
Pakistan has not hosted an international series since the Lahore attacks in March last year, and was stripped of its rights to host the 2011 World Cup as a result of the volatile security situation in the country. The UAE, with strong links to Pakistan cricket, has emerged as an alternate 'host' and Pakistan have played ODI series against Australia and New Zealand in Dubai and Abu Dhabi since last year.
The chief of the Emirates Cricket Association, Dilawar Mani, welcomed the news and said the Shiekh Zayed Stadium, a possible Test venue, was ready for the series. The ground hosted the inaugural game of the English domestic season this year, a four-day fixture between the MCC and Durham.
"It is very, very encouraging that we will soon be an international Test match venue," Mani was quoted as saying by The News. "This wicket looks so flat to me we could probably play a 10-day game on it," he said. "It is absolutely ready for a Test match. I think our groundsman has done a great job."
Majola added he was keen to send the South Africa A team to the UAE to train in conditions similar to the sub-continent, and said it would also help the national team in its preparation for the 2011 World Cup in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
"We are hoping to send our A team also to UAE. I am able to see that UAE is currently doing very well and hence will be a strong opposition to our A team. It is also important for us to prepare our players to play in the sub-continent conditions. We will be speaking to UAE whether we can send our A team here," Majola said. "Our A team is our second best team. We want our A team to play here because if anything happens to our top players the players from our second best team will also know to play under these conditions."