England return to Pakistan for T20 series

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England will visit Pakistan for the first time in 16 years when they play two T20 Internationals in October 2021.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced the short tour will serve as a build-up to the Twenty20 World Cup in India that is scheduled to start the same month.

It also means international cricket will return to Pakistan following a deadly terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009 that killed six policemen and two civilians.

The matches are scheduled for October 14 and 15, both in Karachi.

"This will be the first time since 2005 that an England team has toured Pakistan and as such it represents a significant moment for both nations," ECB Chief Executive Officer Tom Harrison said.

"As always, the safety and welfare of our players and staff will be paramount. We are working closely with the PCB to ensure all the necessary plans are in place, especially concerning the anticipated levels of security around the team, the proposed travel protocols and of course the situation regarding the fast-moving and ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic."

Pakistan have hosted Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for Tests, and Zimbabwe for limited overs matches since September 2019, having used Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi as home venues since the bus attack.

England have also announced a provisional home schedule for 2021, with a five-match Test series against India set to headline the English summer.

Sri Lanka and Pakistan are pencilled in for limited overs matches in June and July before the first Test against India, which begins on August 4 at Trent Bridge in Nottingham.

Having held matches this year in bio-secure bubbles without fans, the ECB hopes to have spectators return to stadiums in 2021.

"Next year we've got another big international programme to look forward to, with the thrill of a five-Test series against India as the centrepiece," ECB CEO Tom Harrison said in a statement.

"While COVID means there's still a great deal of uncertainty, we really hope to be able to welcome fans back into the grounds safely next year to bring that unique atmosphere to stadia across the country."