After Twenty20 and One-day Internationals against Sri Lanka, Pakistan cricket team will play another Test series on neutral grounds -- from December 31 in Abu Dhabi.
No sports team in the world would like to play their home series at a neutral venue, but Pakistan have been forced to host all of their international matches away from home grounds and crowd.
All of Pakistan’s famous cricket grounds have been presenting a deserted look since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March, 2009. And in the given circumstances, nobody can predict when Pakistan will be able to host international cricket matches again.
Pakistan have played most number of Test matches at neutral venues. Till the recently-played Test series against South Africa, Pakistan’s total number of Tests at neutral venues stood at 18, followed by Australia and South Africa with 8 and 7 Tests, respectively.
Sri Lanka, England and West Indies have so far featured in 4, 3 and 2 Tests played at neutral venues, respectively.
India, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe have never featured in a Test match played at a neutral ground.
Interestingly, Pakistan have been part of every Test match played at a neutral location after the 1912 historic Test match tri-series in England.
Pakistan are also the only cricket team to have played Test matches at neutral venues in four different countries, followed by the Aussies with three countries.
Pakistan played their neutral Tests in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, England and UAE. England, the UAE and Sri Lanka hosted Australia’s neutral Test matches.
South Africa (in England & the UAE) and Sri Lanka (in Bangladesh & the UAE) have tasted neutral Test cricket in two countries each. England and the West Indies have played neutral Tests only in the UAE.
In all, 21 Test matches have so far been played at neutral venues. The UAE has hosted 14 neutral Test matches.
England have hosted five such matches. Apart from the Test Triangular in 1912, England hosted two Test matches in 2010 between Pakistan and Australia -- at Lord’s and Leeds.
Bangladesh hosted the Asian Test Championship final between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at Dhaka in 1998-99.
Sri Lanka staged one Test match between Pakistan and Australia at Colombo in 2002.
Sharjah and Dubai have staged the most number of such Tests, five each.
Four such Tests have been played at Abu Dhabi and Lord’s has played home to two neutral Test matches. Manchester, Nottingham, Leeds, Dhaka and Colombo hosted one neutral Test match each.
Manchester staged the first ever neutral Test match, featuring Australia and South Africa some 101 years ago. It was in 1912 when Britain organised the historic Triangular Test tournament.
England, Australia and South Africa, which were the only Test-playing nations at that time, featured in the competition.
Australia faced South Africa three times in the event at Manchester, Lord’s and Nottingham. Those were the first-ever Tests played at neutral places.
The 1912 tournament was one of only three events in Test history to have been played among more than two nations -- the others being the two editions of Asian Test Championship (ATC) in 1998-99 and 2001-02. Pakistan won the ATC title in 1998-99 and Sri Lanka emerged as champions in 2001-02.