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Pakistan-Australia white-ball matches moved from Rawalpindi to Lahore

Political rallies scheduled in Islamabad - the twin city of Rawalpindi - has forced the change

Danyal Rasool
Danyal Rasool
18-Mar-2022
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Rawalpindi was scheduled to host three ODIs and a one-off T20I  •  AFP/Getty Images

Pakistan's white-ball matches against Australia will now be played in Lahore, and not Rawalpindi, Pakistan's interior minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad said on Friday. On Saturday, the two boards agreed on the shift, and the three ODIs and one-off T20I will be played at the Gaddafi Stadium.
The move was forced on the PCB because of a political situation surrounding prime minister Imran Khan, who is set to face a no-confidence vote next week.
ESPNcricinfo understands that the final decision was a matter for the two boards - the PCB and Cricket Australia - and not the government to finalise. However, the boards have now mutually agreed to the recommendation of the minister.
The political atmosphere in the country has led to both the ruling party, Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and the opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), promising to bring massive numbers in support for their respective causes towards Islamabad, which adjoins Rawalpindi.
PTI has announced it will bring one million people to D Chowk, a square in Islamabad known for hosting political rallies, on March 27 "to express solidarity with the prime minister Imran Khan". The spot is less than two kilometres from the hotel where the two teams were expected to stay during the series. PDM has also given a call to its workers and the public at large to begin a long march towards Islamabad on Pakistan Day - March 23.
The dates for the four games remains unchanged. Lahore will host the three ODIs on March 29, March 31 and April 2, and a one-off T20I on April 5. The PCB is understood to have been reluctant to shift venue, concerned about the message it might send to the cricketing world. It appears, though, that circumstances may have forced their hand.
Australia are currently in Lahore to play the third Test of a three-match series, starting March 21. The first two Tests - in Rawalpindi and Karachi - were drawn. It is the first Australia tour to the country since 1998.
* The story was updated at 0623 GMT on March 19, 2022.

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