Pakistan’s Azhar Ali in action at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi during a Test series against Sri Lanka. Pakistan will stage their home series against Australia in the UAE in October. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: UAE will make their international cricket venues available for Pakistan this year despite intense demand from a number of other parties to play here from September. The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) and Pakistan Cricket Board have come to an agreement following discussions on how Pakistan, who stage their international matches here along with the Pakistan Super League, can continue to stage their matches here without disruption.

Starting with the Asian Cricket Council’s Asia Cup tournament from September 13 to 28, all UAE venues will be fully booked in the coming months. The Afghanistan Cricket Board too will be hosting their T20 league in Sharjah in October. The ECB, too, will be hosting their T20 and T10 leagues from December 10 to January 10, 2019.

During October, Pakistan will stage their home series against Australia and their annual Pakistan Super League (PSL) early next year and hence their board wanted an assurance as to whether the venues will be available for them.

The series against Australia will include two Test matches, five One Day Internationals and one Twenty20 International.

PCB, incidentally, was in search of an alternate venue other than UAE for their matches and had even plans to approach Malaysia when ECB and PCB officials met and arrived at a decision in mutual interest. For Pakistan, Malaysia would not have been as ideal a venue because, unlike in UAE, a large turnout of Pakistan expatriates couldn’t be assured for matches there besides the additional risk of rain disrupting play.

The ECB has even committed to PCB that they will significantly reduce the costs for holding their matches here with immediate effect. It was also agreed that ECB will not host any league during the time when the PCB/PSL T20/ODI fixtures are being played in the UAE.

Sharjah Cricket Stadium, which draws Pakistan fans in large numbers, will stage the Afghanistan Cricket Board’s T20 league. The PCB wanted to make sure that the Afghanistan league’s dates do not clash with their home series against Australia or affect their commercial interests.

The Dubai International Stadium and Abu Dhabi Zayed Cricket Stadium will be made ready for the Pakistan-Australian series. Pakistan have been staging all their home series in UAE since 2009 due to security issues in view of the terror attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore.

The PCB had staged some of their PSL matches in Pakistan for the last two years and are likely to stage more matches in their home country from the tournament’s fourth edition. The majority of the fourth edition of the PSL matches will be, however, held in UAE from late February 2019.