ISLAMABAD: Australia arrived for its first tour to Pakistan in 24 years on Sunday with the visitors due to play three test matches, three one-day internationals and a one-off Twenty20 during their six-week tour.
Australia last toured to Pakistan in 1998 when it won the test series 1-0 while also winning all the matches in the limited-overs series. Pakistan has struggled to attract visiting sides since a fatal terrorist attack on the visiting Sri Lanka team’s bus in 2009, and Australia pulled out of a tour five years earlier after a suicide blast at a Lahore church.
Pakistan has hosted Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh and South Africa over the last six years, but Australia is the first high-profile team that will be touring Pakistan for a full-fledged bilateral series.
Last year both New Zealand and England pulled out of limited-overs tours to Pakistan due to security concerns. New Zealand abandoned its tour just hours before the toss for the first ODI in Rawalpindi, which is due to host the first test against Australia beginning March 4.
The Pakistan Cricket Board has labelled 2022 as “bumper year” with New Zealand and England also due to tour Pakistan later this year.
Karachi will host the second Australia test from March 12-16 followed by the third test at Lahore from March 21-25. Rawalpindi will host the ODI series from March 29 before Australia rounds off its tour with a Twenty20 on April 5.
Security teams from Australia visited Pakistan last year to assess the security arrangements in the three cities before the tour was given approval by Cricket Australia.
Thousands of security personnel are expected to be deployed during the Australians’ stay and the Pakistan cricket board expects fully vaccinated capacity crowds for the tests and limited-overs series.
“You are really lucky to be surrounded by so many professionals, that was one of the big factors that we wanted to be really, really thorough on,” Cummins said in a virtual press conference just hours after arriving in Pakistan.
“There’s lots of things going on around. This (security) might be a little bit different to what we’re used to, but we know it’s been taken care of so we can just really enjoy our first tour here in 24 years. And yeah, there’s no distractions other than the cricket.”
Steve Smith and Pakistan-born Usman Khawaja also shared their pictures on Twitter as the team boarded a chartered flight from Melbourne.
Australia players remain in one-day isolation in their team hotel before starting training from Monday at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, the venue for the first test.
Capacity crowds are expected to witness the historic series which is part of the World Test Championship. Australia is at No. 2 on the WTC table behind Sri Lanka with Pakistan occupying No. 3 spot.
Cummins expects passionate crowds at all the venues.
“Whenever we come over to play in the subcontinent, the fans are just so different to Australia that they’re loud, they’re really passionate, and I’m sure Pakistan’s going to be no different,” Cummins said.
“It’s the first test matches between the two countries over here in 20-odd years, so it’s a special moment. We feel privileged as players.”