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Official confirmation of Pakistan tour ‘imminent’ : ZC chairman Mukuhlani

HARARE (Cricinfo): Zimbabwe will tour Pakistan as scheduled next month with official confirmation all but imminent. This was confirmed to ESPNcricinfo by Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani, who said he was “hopeful we will be cleared to travel to Pakistan” and that an official announcement would be made shortly.

That would appear to end any uncertainty surrounding the limited-overs tour set to begin from October 20, with Multan in line to host an international fixture for the first time in 12 years. The series will be held in a bio-secure bubble, with the PCB yet to formalise in full the standard operating procedures which are to be followed during the series, including the period of quarantine that Zimbabwe’s players will have to undergo. The PCB are privately weighing up the merits of a quarantine period as short as three days, to one as long as a week. They are understood to be in talks with the ECB and ICC for input.

England were the first cricket board in world to host an international series in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic by creating a bio-secure bubble and went on to play West Indies, Pakistan and Australia. The PCB accrued some experience of the procedures, given the Pakistan side were in England on tour, and are forming their own protocols. It was understood the PCB couldn’t afford the company hired by the ECB to carry out the procedures.

With an apparently sharp decline in Covid-19 cases in Pakistan, the PCB in August principally decided to resume professional cricket after a 24-week hiatus. The PCB had formally commenced cricketing operations last month and announced a full domestic season, opting to host the National T20 Cup ahead of the Zimbabwe tour in Rawalpindi and Multan – the two venues that are to host Zimbabwe. It is believed setting up a bio-secure bubble for domestic teams will form a learning curve ahead of the international fixtures. Zimbabwe, meanwhile, look to have been spared the worst of the pandemic so far, with fewer than 8,000 official cases and 224 deaths.

Multan, which last hosted an ODI in 2008, is scheduled to play host to a three-match ODI series, with as many T20Is to be played in Rawalpindi. The Zimbabwe tour to Pakistan is the second such tour by the side in five years, after Zimbabwe became the first Full Member nation to visit Pakistan since the Sri Lankan cricket team terror attack in March 2009.

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