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What will Pakistan’s international schedule look like between 2023-27?

by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

International cricket will return with full gusto to Pakistan in the 2023-27 Future Tours Programme, according to reports in various media houses, that have released a “near-final” draft of the schedule.

The upcoming international calendar, running from May 2023 to April 2027, will see the return of an ICC event to Pakistan for the first time in 29 years. The country will also host significantly more matches. It will be a welcome change for a team that played most of their “home games” in the UAE for most parts of the last decade.

Here is a look at the key points from Pakistan’s FTP:

Pakistan gears up to host more matches

The most significant takeaway from the upcoming FTP calendar is the increase in the number of bilateral series Pakistan are about to host. The cricket drought in the nation, from 2009, seems to have ended with South Africa and Australia recently completing tours and England confirming a seven-match T20I series later this year. In the upcoming cycle, Pakistan will host a total of 12 bilateral series across formats, including a three-match Test series against England in October 2024.

West Indies and Bangladesh will also play a Test series in Pakistan, while Sri Lanka, West Indies, Australia, Ireland and South Africa will play various white-ball series in Pakistan over the course of four years.

An increased number of ODIs

Pakistan will play a total of 49 ODIs – excluding ICC and ACC events – from 2023 till 2027, the third-most in the world. Bangladesh will play 59 ODIs in the next FTP, followed by Sri Lanka, the only other side to play more than 50 ODIs in the period.

Pakistan will play 13 bilateral series in the 50-over format, of which eight will be away from home. They will begin the cycle with a five-match ODI series in Sri Lanka, and then travel to Australia and South Africa in the span of three months in 2024/25. Besides also touring New Zealand, they will tour Zimbabwe twice, and Bangladesh and West Indies once each, for ODIs.

Besides bilaterals, Pakistan will also host two tri-series. The first will involve New Zealand and South Africa in February 2025, and the other will be a year later, featuring Sri Lanka and a third unconfirmed team.

No series against India

Pakistan have not played any bilateral series against India since 2012/13. Fans will have to remain content with watching the sides clash only in ACC or ICC events. Political differences between the nations have meant that India and Pakistan have only taken on each other in the Asia Cup, the World Cup, Champions Trophy or the T20 World Cup over the last ten years. The two teams have not played a Test match since 2007/08, and an encounter between them in the format seems unlikely in the near future unless they face off in the final of the World Test Championship.

Return of an ICC event to Pakistan for the first since 1996

Pakistan will host the 50-over Champions Trophy in February-March 2025, the first time they will host any ICC event since the 1996 World Cup (though, strictly speaking, ICC did not organise the World Cup until 1999). Pakistan had hosted the 1996 World Cup with Sri Lanka and India. The winners of the 2017 Champions Trophy, Pakistan have hosted only one other ICC event – the 1987 World Cup – once again, with India.

In 2025, thus, they will host an ICC event for the first time on their own.

A dedicated IPL window affects Pakistan’s international calendar

The 2023-27 FTP will also see a dedicated window for the IPL, which adverse effect on Pakistan’s cricket calendar. No Pakistani cricketer has been part of the tournament since 2009, and the two-and-a-half IPL window will rob their key players of crucial game time. The window for the IPL will also affect PCB monetarily. Cricket boards typically get compensated with a percentage of their player’s IPL salaries. With no Pakistan player involved in the league, and the threat of no top-flight cricket over ten weeks every year, PCB will be under the threat of losses.

The IPL is also expected to grow further, with around 90 games being planned in the next few years. The Pakistan Super League, usually held in the months of February and March, is eyeing an expansion as well, with a longer tournament on the ropes. The PSL has no dedicated window – yet – and will have to compete with the IPL in terms of scheduling. If the leagues overlap, the PSL stand with the risk of losing out on big stars, who would prefer playing in IPL.

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