Soon after bringing Test cricket back home, Pakistan are hoping to tap into the spectacle of day-night Test cricket. The PCB has asked Bangladesh if they would be willing to play a flood-lit Test match in Karachi as part of a two-Test and three-T20I tour next month. The BCB is yet to commit to the series though, stating that it is still waiting on a security report and a government directive before making a final call.
Bangladesh played their first day-night Test on the tour to India in November, which also happened to be the first day-night match in the subcontinent. Pakistan have already played four Tests under lights, and are set to host their first Test at home in over a decade against Sri Lanka later this week.
“The idea behind encouraging day-night cricket and offering Bangladesh is to counter the problem of dwindling crowds,” said PCB chairman Ehsan Mani. “We intend to add at least one day-night Test in our home itinerary. The benefit, other than better crowds, is that we can have an opportunity to extend our cricketing season. Like in Pakistan if the season ends in the mid-April or earlier, we can extend it by having day-night games to fill in an empty window.
“It’s really unfair to play Test cricket in front of empty stadiums and with this idea we hope crowds will turn up for this unique experience after their job in evening. Now, almost every Test-cricket-playing member has started playing day-night cricket and we think at least one day-night Test should be played in a series. Even India captain Virat Kohli who was bit cautious about the day-night Test, now after the recent game [against Bangladesh] at home turned into an ambassador of this idea so it’s good for the future.”
The PCB has been experimenting with day-night first-class cricket for the last eight years starting with the final of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in 2011, which was played with an orange ball in Karachi. The PCB was also keen to host a day-night Test in 2013, two years before the first one between Australia and New Zealand. The board had approached Sri Lanka to see if it could be possible but the SLC declined saying citing lack of practice with the pink ball. In 2016, PCB agreed to a day-night Test against Australia in Brisbane in December.
The same year, the PCB organised 10 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy matches including the semi-final and final under lights, to ensure all the teams and players had ample opportunity to experience the pink ball and the change in conditions. Furthermore, a couple of months before the Brisbane Test, they also convinced West Indies to play a Test in Dubai under lights, which Pakistan won by 56 runs. In 2017, Pakistan hosted Sri Lanka in a day-night Test in Dubai, which they lost by 68 runs. In their last day-night Test against Australia in Adelaide, Pakistan were walloped by an innings and 48 runs.
The ICC permitted member boards to play day-night Tests from October 2012 but left it to the boards to decide the feasibility of these matches in their bilateral agreements. Misbah-ul-Haq, the current Pakistan head coach and chief selector, had in his days as captain the cricket world to embrace the concept quickly. In 2016, he had said: “Future belongs to night Tests and this should be played frequently.”