A risky venture
Amid security concerns, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) is set to send the national women's team to Pakistan for a short visit. The board has already obtained the GO (government order) for players and officials for the series -- two One Day Internationals and as many T20I matches scheduled to be held in Karachi and Lahore. The board has also booked flights on September 27 and September 28 and return flights on October 7.
All the requisite work regarding this trip is almost done and BCB president Nazmul Hassan Papon is expected to make the official announcement today upon his return from abroad.
"We are waiting for our board president to return to the country tomorrow [Wednesday]. Once he is here, he will hold further discussions and then reveal the final decision," said BCB's director and chairman of media committee Jalal Yunus yesterday.
Many have been considering the visit as a risky venture to a risky place, with reports of terrorist attacks in various parts of the country, including attacks inside secured zones and on high-profile politicians, grabbing world headlines.
However, the board took the decision based on the report of a four-member security team, which visited Karachi and Lahore on September 5. According to sources, the security team submitted their report to the BCB president, mentioning that they were convinced the security arrangements would allow the board to go ahead with the tour. There was also some advice in the report, but nothing was deemed serious enough for the board to cancel the tour.
According to board insiders, the BCB is keen to continue its good relationship with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in order to maintain bilateral series as well as Pakistan players' participation in Bangladesh's domestic circuit.
Zimbabwe's tour in May this year signalled the return of international cricket to Pakistan, six years after a militant attack on the Sri Lanka national cricket team bus on March 2009. However, amid all the celebrations, Zimbabwe's tour was marred by a suicide attack near the Gadaffi Stadium during the second match.
Bangladesh men's cricket team was due to tour Pakistan in April 2012, but the High Court blocked that tour following a public outcry. Then in 2013, there was a discussion about having a short tour, consisting of one T20I and one ODI, but the BCB cancelled the tour, saying Pakistan was not safe for its players. This decision led to some animosity from the PCB, which barred its players from participating in the Bangladesh Premier League in 2013.
The last time the Tigers visited Pakistan was in July 2008 for the Asia Cup, playing matches in Lahore and Karachi, while the Bangladesh national football team played a World Cup pre-qualifying match in Lahore in July 2011. The most recent visit was made by the Bangladesh women's handball team, who travelled to Faisalabad for the IHF Trophy in December 2014, preceded by the Bangladesh women's football team's visit to Islamabad in November 2014 for the SAFF Women's Championship.