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Pakistan will allow up to one-fourth occupancy of its cricket stadia when it hosts the New Zealand series next month, with permission to attend the matches contingent on being fully vaccinated against Covid-19, announced the country’s cricket board on Monday.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said that it has received the go-ahead from the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC), the focal body handling the country’s pandemic response, to allow occupancy up to 25% of the total capacity for the upcoming series against New Zealand.

Pakistan is set to host New Zealand for a three-match ODI series in Rawalpindi starting from September 17, followed by five T20 internationals in Lahore.

The development means the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, which has a capacity of 18,000 people, will host up to 4,500 spectators during the ODI series, while the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore with 22,000 crowd capacity could welcome up to 5,500 cricket fans.

Key New Zealand players could miss Pakistan series due to IPL

The news is set to be a delight for the cricket-loving nation that has seen matches behind closed doors due to Covid-19 restrictions.

A PCB statement said on Monday that only fully-vaccinated spectators carrying their certificate would be allowed entry into the stadium. Ticket prices for both ODI and T20 series will be announced soon.

PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan thanked the NCOC for allowing the cricket board to host up to 25% spectators.

“Spectators are the essence of any sporting event as they create an ambience and atmosphere for the players to excel, perform and enjoy,” he said, hoping that the NCOC’s decision will encourage unvaccinated cricketers to get their jabs at the earliest as well.

PCB says New Zealand tour to Pakistan on track

“This will be an opportunity for the spectators to not only enjoy some quality cricket in the season-opening series but also support and back players from either side as the ODIs count towards the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 qualification, while the T20Is will lead into the ICC T20 World Cup,” he added.

New Zealand, who finished runners-up in the 2019 World Cup and are also the reigning Test Champions, will arrive in Islamabad on September 11 after concluding their Bangladesh tour that kicks off from September 1 in Dhaka. The 24-day long tour will be New Zealand’s first to the country since 2003.

The visiting side will be devoid of seven of its key players including captain Kane Williamson due to their commitments with the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Still, the tour will be a confidence booster for Pakistan cricket with regards to hosting major international teams on its soil, and will certainly help with the team’s preparations for T20 World Cup, which is starting mid-October in the UAE.

Tour Itinerary

September 11: Arrive in Islamabad.

September 12-14: Room isolation.

September 15-16: Training/practice/intra-squad match.

September 17: 1st ODI (Rawalpindi).

September 19: 2nd ODI (Rawalpindi).

September 21: 3rd ODI (Rawalpindi).

September 25: 1st T20 International (Lahore).

September 26: 2nd T20 International (Lahore).

September 29: 3rd T20 International (Lahore).

October 1: 4th T20 International (Lahore).

October 3: 5th T20 International (Lahore).

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