The ongoing National T20 Cup to be used to showcase Pakistan’s preparedness for the international white-ball series
Zimbabwe Cricket will send a five-person delegation to Pakistan to assess the arrangements for the bio-secure bubble ahead of their six-match limited-overs series in the country.
The PCB is currently staging the six-team National T20 Cup in the country in biosecure bubbles. The first leg of matches is currently on in Multan, where the ODI leg of the Zimbabwe series will be played, and the remaining games will be in Rawalpindi, the venue for the T20Is. The National T20 Cup is expected to serve as an example for the Zimbabwean delegation. Lahore, meanwhile, is hosting the National T20 Cup for the second XIs, while the first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, with both the first XIs and second XIs, will be held entirely in Karachi across six venues from this month.
Comprising three ODIs and as many T20Is, the tour is scheduled to begin on October 30 in Multan with the ODIs, which are a part of the World Cup Super League. Zimbabwe will carry a 32-member squad to cater to both the formats as well as for the intra-squad warm-up matches.
This will be Zimbabwe’s first tour of Pakistan after 2015, when they became the first Full-Member nation to visit the country after the terror attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009. On that occasion, each of the touring Zimbabwe cricketers was paid US$ 12,500 by the PCB to make the visit, a practice the PCB continued till 2018 in a bid to get international cricket going in Pakistan again. With the situation having changed significantly in recent years, there is no financial inducement for the Zimbabweans to visit this time, five-and-some years on from that historic visit.
The delegation, comprising two health officers, one security in-charge, and two ZC executives are expected to land in Islamabad on October 10. Their official inter-city travel will begin after they return two negative tests within 48 hours of arrival in Pakistan’s national capital. Once given the go-ahead, they will begin their inspection in Rawalpindi during the National T20 Cup, followed by a visit to Multan. The Zimbabwe squad will also undergo two Covid-19 tests within a space of 48 hours: one in Harare prior to their departure on October 19, and the other upon arrival in Islamabad on October 20.
On September 4, the PCB had announced a full domestic season, with six associations staying and playing in bio-secure bubbles, and opening up the training facilities at its National High Performance Centre in Lahore – all in a strictly controlled bio-secure environments. It has also issued an advisory to restart the sport at the grassroots and recreational levels with adequate safety measures in place.
The Covid-19 situation in Pakistan is understood to be getting better, with a sense of normalcy beginning to trickle in since last month. Tourism, stores and malls, restaurants, educational institutions and public transport have resumed operating.