Pakistan hope to dominate in England tour despite no prior practice

Khalid Hussain
Photo: AFP

Pakistan will take on England in the opening Test expected to begin on August 5 at Old Trafford without any practice matches.

However, the Pakistanis who will be going to England with an extended 29-man squad are confident that they would get ample training and practice by holding intrasquad games ahead of the three-match Test series against England.

A top Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official told The News that because of the Covid-19 situation, no tour games ahead of the series were lined up.

Traditionally, teams touring England get plenty of opportunities to adapt to the English weather and playing conditions by taking on county teams in practice matches ahead of a Test series.

“But because of strict protocols due to Covid-19, this time there would be no practice matches ahead of our series against England,” said Wasim Khan, PCB’s CEO.

“Our players will prepare for the Test series by playing matches within our squad. We would have 29 players available during the tour so they can have plenty of match practice by having 14-a-side games,” he said.

Pakistan are expected to fly out to England from either Lahore or Islamabad on June 30 and will most likely set their training base in Derby. The County Cricket Ground in Derby has a hotel nearby and offers complete training facilities including indoor nets.

Pakistan will then move to Manchester ahead of the opening Test at Old Trafford, which would be held behind closed doors. The next two Tests would be played at Aegis Bowl in Southampton. The matches will be followed by a three-match Twenty20 International series to be entirely held at Old Trafford in the last week of August.

Before leaving for England, Pakistan’s players and officials will undergo Covid-19 tests twice as the Board wants to avoid any unpleasant surprise.

The players will be tested for Covid-19 infection in their home towns on June 20 and once the squad gathers in either Lahore or Islamabad they would be tested again just a couple of days before their departure to England.

Meanwhile, the Board has formally received a go-ahead from Prime Minister Imran Khan to send the team to England despite the Covid-19 situation.

Imran, who is PCB’s patron-in-chief, gave his nod of approval to the tour during a meeting with Ehsan Mani, the Board’s chairman.

Imran, a former Pakistan captain and hero of their 1992 World Cup triumph, told Mani that the Board should ensure the health and safety of all players and officials who will be part of the touring party.

Pakistan hope to dominate in England tour despite no prior practice