The England team reached Islamabad early Sunday morning for the three-match Test series against Pakistan.

England Cricket shared a video of the team’s arrival at the Islamabad International Airport, from Abu Dhabi where the English men played practice matches.

The team was shifted to a hotel in the federal capital under strict security arrangements. The British High Commissioner in Islamabad will host a dinner in the English team’s honour.

The home series is slated to begin on December 1, with the first Test to be played at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. It will be a Test match to be played for the first time in the Pindi stadium’s history. The second Test will be played in Multan while the last Test in Karachi.

Meanwhile, Pakistan team, who have been practicing for days, will rest on Sunday. The two sides will start training again at the Rawalpindi stadium from tomorrow till Wednesday.

England skipper Ben Stokes, who led his side to the glorious victory of T20 World Cup 2022 against the Men in Green, will be captaining the team in the Test series, the first in 17 years to be played in Pakistan. The England Test squad toured Pakistan in 2005.

The English men visited Pakistan in September for a seven-match T20 series and won 4-3.

They were due to visit Pakistan last year but pulled out after New Zealand abandoned their tour minutes before the first One-day International, citing security alerts.

There were fears of a similar pull out earlier this month following an attack on former prime minister Imran Khan during a protest march in Wazirabad, a city in Punjab province.

But England’s Test skipper Ben Stokes quashed all fears following a positive security advice.

“It’s been a long time since England have played Test cricket in Pakistan,” Stokes said in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

“With what happened with Imran Khan recently, there was a little bit of concern, but we have Reg Dickason, who has been the security man for many years with England, and we left it in his capable hands.”

“In terms of the tour itself, I’m really looking forward to it,” Stokes added.

“I’ve never been there, and I’m quite interested to see what the security lark is like. I’ve heard it’s pretty intense.”

The squad and support staff were whisked to the team hotel under heavy security which Pakistan has been putting in place since the revival of international cricket in the country since 2015.

Pakistan were forced to play their home matches on the neutral venues of the United Arab Emirates following attacks on the Sri Lankan team in 2009.

But Pakistan have hosted multiple teams in the last seven years, the most notable being Australia earlier this year.  

Vying for World Test championship

The three-match series — part of the World Test championship — starts in Rawalpindi from December 1 with the second Test in Multan (December 9-13) and the third in Karachi (December 17-21).

Pakistan, currently fifth in the nine-team championship to England’s seventh, will hope for a series win in order to finish in the top two to play the 2023 final.

Pakistan, led by star batter Babar Azam, will be without key fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi who is nursing a knee injury and experienced leg-spinner Yasir Shah, not selected due to poor form.

England fast bowler Mark Wood is in doubt for the first Test with a hip injury while experienced James Anderson, the only survivor of the 2005 tour but did not figure in the 2-0 series defeat, will lead the attack.

England squad: Ben Stokes (c), Ben Foakes (wk), Joe Root, James Anderson, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Rehan Ahmed, Will Jacks, Keaton Jennings, Jack Leach, Liam Livingstone, Jamie Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood.

Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Nawaz, Wasim Jr, Naseem Shah, Nauman Ali, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shan Masood and Zahid Mehmood.

Schedule of Tests

December 1-5 – 1st Test, Rawalpindi

December 9-13 – Second Test, Multan

December 17-21 – Third Test, Karachi

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