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Home ยป Pakistan V England: Tourists Wait To Learn If Series Starts On Thursday

Pakistan V England: Tourists Wait To Learn If Series Starts On Thursday

Harry Brook was one of only five England players who trained on WednesdayVenue: Rawalpindi Date: Thursday, 1 December (05:00 GMT)Coverage: Live Test Match Special radio and text commentary on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra & BBC Sport website, plus desktop, tablets, mobiles and app.A decision on whether the first Test between Pakistan and England will go ahead as scheduled will be taken on Thursday morning.

The match in Rawalpindi could be delayed by a day after half of the touring party was struck by illness.

The Test series is England’s first in Pakistan in 17 years – they halted tours to the country following a gun attack on the Sri Lanka team in 2009.

A statement said the decision will come by 07:30 local time (02:30 GMT).

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) jointly said: “The two boards made the decision based on medical advice from the England doctors, which revolved around the players’ health and welfare, agreeing that the England cricket team are able to select an XI.”

The Test, the first in a three-Test series is scheduled to commence at 05:00 GMT.

Talks between the PCB and the ECB were held after around 14 players and staff from the touring party were struck with a viral infection.

If the match does not begin on Thursday, it will start on Friday and remain as a five-day match.

The schedule of the rest of the tour would be unaffected, meaning only a two-day gap before the second Test in Multan, which is due to begin on 9 December.

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In the time when England have not toured, Pakistan have twice hosted them in the United Arab Emirates, winning both series.

In the aftermath of the attack on the Sri Lanka team, Pakistan went six years without playing any sort of international cricket on home soil.

Zimbabwe were the first team to return for a white-ball series in 2015, with Sri Lanka playing the first Test back in Pakistan in 2019.

As a host of English players took part in the Pakistan Super League, the way was paved for England to tour, but a limited-overs series was called off in 2021 with a month’s notice after the New Zealand team received a “specific and credible threat” while in Pakistan.

England did eventually return to play a T20 series in September and October of this year, winning 4-3.

Both then and now they have been afforded a ‘presidential’ level of security, meaning an armed convoy through closed roads when they travel.

The series takes place against the backdrop of mass flooding that has devastated huge parts of Pakistan and England captain Ben Stokes has pledged his match fees from the tour to the flood appeal charity.

“Coming here is a monumental time for English cricket and for Pakistan as a nation,” said Stokes, before becoming one of the players struck down by illness.

“There are things that go on in life that are bigger than sport and I felt compelled just to give something that is bigger than cricket.”

A number of England fans and tour groups have made the trip to Pakistan. About 60% of tickets for the 15,000-capacity Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium are thought to have been sold in advance of days one and two. Greater crowds are expected over the weekend.

The match is a swift reuniting of the two teams that contested the T20 World Cup final earlier this month, with England prevailing in Melbourne.

Pakistan are chasing a place in the World Test Championship final at The Oval next summer, currently lying fifth in the table. England, in seventh, are out of contention.

“We are excited about that prospect of playing the final,” said Pakistan captain Babar Azam. “This is an important series for that and we have a golden chance to achieve that.”

For England it is the first overseas tour under captain Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum. It will provide a stern examination of a swashbuckling style that brought six wins from seven Tests in the summer.

“The most important thing to remember is going out there and showing the intent we did in the summer,” said Stokes.

“We don’t feel like we want to be held back by the narrative of how Test cricket needs to be played. We’re in an era now with English cricket, with myself and Brendon leading the red-ball cricket about how we want to go out and play.”

England named their XI on Tuesday, with Lancashire all-rounder Liam Livingstone handed his Test debut and opener Ben Duckett recalled for his first Test in six years.