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South Africa to host Pakistan in three Tests next season

JOHANNESBURG: Cricket South Africa (CSA) have announced their home schedule for the 2018-19 season that will see tours by Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, with the focus on One-day Internationals ahead of the World Cup next year.

South Africa will also host a total of five Tests, 13 One-day Internationals and nine Twenty20 Internationals against these three nations.

Pakistan will feature in the marquee Boxing Day and New Year Tests as they tour South Africa for the first time since 2013.

The first Test will be played in Centurion from Dec 26-30, before matches in Cape Town (Jan 3-7) and Johannesburg (Jan 11-15). The sides will also clash in five One-day Internationals and three Twenty20 Internationals that will follow the Test series.

There will be a just a week’s break before the end of Pakistan’s tour and the arrival of Sri Lanka for Tests in Durban (Feb 13-17) and Port Elizabeth (Feb 21-25).

The sides will also be involved in a series of five One-day Internationals and three Twenty20 fixtures that will finish on March 24.

After the busiest home season in South African history in 2017-18, which included 10 Tests — one of which was the first day-night, four-day long format fixture — South Africa will have much less of a workload next summer. They will only play half the number of Tests but more than double in ODIs and T20s, as preparation for the 2019 World Cup.

That means the five major Test venues receive one match each, with a significant change in the hosting of the Boxing Day Test. Centurion’s SuperSport Park has been selected as the venue for the fixture, which will move inland after several years of being played on the coast.

Previously, the match has alternated between Durban and Port Elizabeth, with the rationale that holiday-makers from up-country would fill the stadiums but poor crowds over recent years have forced a change.

Though many Highveld residents flock to the sea over the festive season, a large number remain at home over that period and CSA have long spoken about trialling the Boxing Day match there.

South Africa’s summer will get underway with a limited overs tour by Zimbabwe that will include three One-day Internationals and three Twenty20 fixtures between Sept 30 and Oct 14 at some of South Africa’s smaller cricket venues.

CSA’s acting chief executive Thabang Moroe said that the scheduled 13 One-day Internationals during the season would enable the national team to fine tune their preparations for the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England.

“Following the outstanding Test match cricket played by the Proteas during the past season we can also look forward to plenty more world-class entertainment by our acknowledged stars during the five Test matches against Pakistan and Sri Lanka,” Moroe said.

South Africa are ranked second in the world in Tests and ODIs, but only sixth in Twenty20 Internationals. Their next assignment is a tour of Sri Lanka that has matches in all three formats and starts in mid-July.