England return to Pakistan for short T20 series

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FILE PHOTO: Third T20 International - England v Pakistan
FILE PHOTO: Third T20 International - England v Pakistan

LONDON (Reuters) - England will visit Pakistan for the first time in 16 years when they play two T20 Internationals in October 2021, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced on Wednesday.

The short tour will serve as a build-up to the Twenty20 World Cup in India that is scheduled to start the same month, and comes as international cricket returns to Pakistan following an attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009 that killed six policemen and two civilians.

The matches are scheduled for Oct. 14 and 15, both in Karachi.

"This will be the first time since 2005 that an England team has toured Pakistan and as such it represents a significant moment for both nations," ECB Chief Executive Officer Tom Harrison said.

"As always, the safety and welfare of our players and staff will be paramount. We are working closely with the PCB to ensure all the necessary plans are in place, especially concerning the anticipated levels of security around the team, the proposed travel protocols and of course the situation regarding the fast-moving and ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic."

Pakistan have hosted Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe on home soil since September 2019. Since the bus attack, they had mostly used Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi as home venues.

Pakistan will also travel to England in July for three ODIs as part of the Super League, which will determine who qualifies for the 50-over World Cup in India in 2023.

The games will be played in Cardiff, London and Birmingham on July 8, 10 and 13.

The Super League features the 12 ICC test-playing nations and the Netherlands, who qualified by winning the World Cricket Super League 2015-17.

The top seven teams in the league, in which each side play four home and four away series of three matches, will automatically confirm their spot at the 2023 event.

England lead the Super League table after picking up 30 points from their series against Ireland and Australia, while Pakistan and Australia are level on 20 points.

England and Pakistan will also contest three T20Is in Nottingham, Leeds and Manchester on July 16, 18 and 20 respectively.

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Toby Chopra and Pritha Sarkar)