Lahore: Pakistan are considering the option of Zimbabwe as a potential 'host' for the home series against Sri Lanka later this year.
The two sides are due to play a full Test and limited-overs series in October, scheduled in the FTP officially as a 'home' series for Pakistan. The board has intensified efforts to find a home for the series over the last few months. Sri Lanka itself is an option that has been considered, one Sri Lanka is probably happiest with; in 2009-10, Pakistan played a 'home' series against New Zealand in New Zealand itself, though financially the trip wasn't a success.
The PCB also asked Sri Lanka Cricket in May, "for their views" on the prospect of playing the series in Pakistan - at the insistence of the Pakistan government. However, that offer was swiftly rebuffed. Soon after the PCB had made their request, a major terrorist attack in Karachi at a naval base - which was eventually held under siege overnight - near the National Stadium occurred.
The UAE is yet another option, having hosted a succession of Pakistan's limited-overs commitments over the last three years and last October, a full series, including Tests, against South Africa. Authorities in the UAE are keen for Pakistan to sign a long-term agreement with them to host their 'home' matches, something the PCB is unwilling to do currently because they believe it pushes the prospect of a return of international cricket to Pakistan further back.
The financial aspects of a 'host' venue have increasingly become a concern for the board; sponsorship opportunities may be greater in the UAE but the costs of hosting the series itself are likely to be much higher than Sri Lanka, for example, where marketing potential is relatively limited.
"We are looking at the costs right now of hosting a series in Zimbabwe," a senior board official told ESPNcricinfo. Peter Chingoka, ZC chairman, is also a member of the ICC's Pakistan Task Team (PTT), a role which is likely to facilitate any such proposal. Sri Lanka have not yet been formally contacted about this possibility.
Sri Lanka's last tour of Pakistan in March 2009 was cut short after terrorists attacked their team bus as it was on the way to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore for the second Test. That attack, on the back of growing security concerns over the previous two years, brought to an end international cricket in the country, taking away the 2011 World Cup in the process. Since then, Pakistan have played home series' in England, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates. Afghanistan were the first international team to tour Pakistan since the March 2009 attack when they played Pakistan 'A' in three 50-over games in May.