Pakistan Prime Minister and former national team skipper Imran Khan has granted the Proteas touring party state guest status for their historic tour which gets underway later this month.
Pakistan grant Proteas state guest status
The trip to Pakistan will be the Proteas first for 14 years with none of the players currently involved in the South African national team having experienced playing Test cricket in the country.
Khan has instructed Pakistan’s Interior and Foreign ministry to make arrangements for their honoured guests as they seek to prove to the world that it is safe for cricket to make a full return.
Pakistan have been forced to play home internationals in neutral UAE for a number of years since the shocking terror attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009.
Khan has seconded 500 Pakistan Rangers to make up part of the Proteas security detail while they are in the country. That number will be augmented by further personnel from the police and Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) who will escort the South African team from their hotel to the grounds.
The Proteas will touch down in Karachi on 16 January and will play the first Test at the National Stadium in Pakistan’s largest city from 26-30 January.
Quinton de Kock and his Proteas charges will then repair to Rawalpindi for the second Test. The tour will round off with three T20Is at the home of Pakistan cricket, the Gadaffi Stadium in Lahore.
The Proteas security isn’t the only concern for the hosts who are also faced with the challenge of maintaining a bio-secure environment. The squad will be required to complete a period of isolation after their arrival in the country before being allowed to train.
A squad of 21 has been named for the tour which will not feature any warm-up matches bar intra-squad affairs.
South Africa will be the first major Test-playing nation to visit Pakistan to play in the longest format and the first to play a Test series in a bio-bubble in the country.
The Test series will be both sides final participation in the inaugural World Test Championship, but neither team are in contention for the final to be held at Lord’s later this year.
Pakistan come into the series under fire after what some have viewed as a sub-par effort in the Test series loss to New Zealand where they were handed two big defeats.