India to tour Pak next year

Karachi, September 23:

India will play a Test and a one-day international in Rawalpindi on their tour of Pakistan early next year despite the latest bombing in adjoining Islamabad, official said on Tuesday.

The blast on Saturday devastated the five-star Marriott hotel and killed at least 60 people, including at least four foreigners. “India will play a Test and a one-day international in Rawalpindi because the itinerary was approved by India before the Islamabad blast,” Pakistan Cricket Board chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi said. “We hope normalcy returns by the time India tours us.”

The Champions Trophy, the second biggest tournament after the World Cup, was due to be held earlier this month but was cancelled due to security concerns in Pakistan. The Indian team stayed in the Marriott on their last two visits in 2004 and 2006. They also played a Test and a one-day in Rawalpindi in 2004 and a one-day in 2006.

Naghmi said Rawalpindi is one of the most important venues in Pakistan. “We have recently renovated the stadium in Rawalpindi and hope when India tours us all will be well,” said Naghmi.

The Indian team will arrive in Karachi on January 4 to play three Tests, five one-day Internationals and a Twenty20 on their 47-day tour. The tour begins with a three-day side match at Hyderabad starting January 6, while Karachi will host the first Test from January 13 to 17.

The teams will play the second Test in Rawalpindi from January 21 to 25 and the third in Lahore from January 29 to February 2. The one-day series will start from February 6 in Faisalabad. The remaining matches will be played in Lahore (February 8), Rawalpindi (February 11), Multan (February 14) and Karachi (February 17). Karachi will host the only Twenty20 match on February 19.

This will be India’s third tour of Pakistan since the two countries revived bilateral cricket series in 2004. India stalled the ties on political grounds in 2000. India’s tour of Pakistan in 2004 was their first to Pakistan since 1990. Pakistan also toured India in 2005 — their first since 1999 — and then in 2007.