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.
“Our Aussie men have arrived in Islamabad,” tweeted Cricket Australia with a picture of smiling captain Pat Cummins.
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 fully-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 labeled 2022 as “bumper year” with New Zealand and England also due to tour Pakistan later this year.
Karachi will host the second 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 the 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.
“We’ve got to a place where everyone hopping on the plane is comfortable with where it’s all sitting. It’s been a really thorough body of work that the security and the logistics teams have worked through,” Cummins said before leaving Australia.
“And obviously the added layer of bio-security in these times as well. So we’re feeling really good and once we get over there, we’re going to be able to just concentrate on the cricket. More than anything it’s a really special tour. We’re going to fly over there and experience something for the first time. We’re really excited, everyone is in a good place.”
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, venue for the first test.