“It will definitely be an emotional moment for me to umpire in a Test involving Pakistan. It has been nearly a 17-year and 132-Test wait, but it’s about to be over.”
JOHANNESBURG – The Proteas were able to shake the travel out their legs with a three hour practice session in Karachi on Sunday following a crazy scramble to get them onto a charter flight to Pakistan on Friday.
As has been the case in New Zealand, England, Australia and in the recent series here in South Africa between the Proteas and Sri Lanka, the Test matches will be officiated by local umpires, providing Aleem Dar, with an opportunity to stand in a Test on home soil for the first time.
“It will definitely be an emotional moment for me to umpire in a Test involving Pakistan. It has been nearly a 17-year and 132-Test wait, but it’s about to be over,” Dar said in a statement released through the Pakistan Cricket Board.
The South African players and coaching staff began preparations for the Proteas’ first tour of Pakistan in 14 years with a light training session at the Karachi Gymkhana after all of the touring party had returned negative results following Covid-19 tests upon their arrival.
Cricket SA had to make some last minute changes to the team’s travel after Emirates had suspended all flights in and out of South Africa on Thursday evening, and a flight had to be chartered to get the squad from Johannesburg to Karachi.
The South Africans will step up training this week, with a two-day inter-squad match scheduled for Thursday and Friday. The first of the two Tests against Pakistan will be played at the National Stadium in Karachi starting on January 26, while the second Test will take place in Rawalpindi from February 4.
The Tests will be followed by three T20 Internationals which will all be played in Lahore. A much changed South Africa squad for that series will be named later this week, with the Proteas expected to fly a number of players back to South Africa to start quarantining ahead of the three match Test series with Australia.
The final details for that tour are still to be discussed between Cricket SA and Cricket Australia, with a schedule expected to be announced also later this week, but it is believed that the first Test will start on March 3.
The challenges in putting together a cricket tour given the global pandemic are significant. In Sri Lanka, where England is touring, two members of the hotel staff in Galle tested positive, but England have stated they will continue with their trip there.
The Indian team have shown remarkable resilience in Australia, overcoming various challenges related to travel limitations and quarantining procedures, to make the four match Test series such a competitive one.