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‘A special moment’: Australia arrives in Pakistan for first tour in 24 years

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Australia has arrived in Pakistan for its first tour since 1998, with Test captain Pat Cummins describing the occasion as a “special moment”.

The visitors will play three Tests and as many one-day internationals, in addition to a T20 international during the six-week tour.

“Whenever we come over to play in the subcontinent, the fans are just so different to Australia … they’re loud, they’re really passionate, and I’m sure Pakistan’s going to be no different,” Cummins told a virtual media conference.

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Pakistan has struggled to attract visiting sides since a fatal terrorist attack during Sri Lanka’s tour in 2009. Australia pulled out of a tour five years earlier after a suicide blast at a Lahore church.

New Zealand and England withdrew from limited-overs tours to Pakistan last year due to security concerns.

The Black Caps abandoned their tour just hours before the toss for the first ODI in Rawalpindi, which is due to host the opening Test against Australia beginning on March 4.

Security teams from Australia visited Pakistan last year to assess the security arrangements before the tour was given Cricket Australia’s approval.

Thousands of security personnel are expected to be deployed during the Australians’ stay, and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) expects fully vaccinated capacity crowds for the Tests and limited-overs series.

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“You are really lucky to be surrounded by so many professionals,” Cummins said.

“That was one of the big factors that we wanted to be really, really thorough on.

“There’s lots of things going on around. This (security) might be a little bit different to what we’re used to, but we know it’s been taken care of so we can just really enjoy our first tour here in 24 years.

“There’s no distractions other than the cricket.”

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.

Karachi will host the second Test against Australia from March 12 to 16, followed by the third Test at Lahore from March 21 to 25.

Rawalpindi will host the ODI series from March 29, before Australia rounds off its tour with a T20 international on April 5.

Capacity crowds are expected to witness the historic Test series, which is part of the World Test Championship (WTC).

Australia is ranked number two on the WTC standings behind Sri Lanka, with Pakistan in third position.

The PCB has described 2022 as a “bumper year”, with New Zealand and England also due to tour.

AP/ABC

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