Pakistan vs Australia matches moved from Rawalpindi to Lahore

Three ODIs and a T20 between Pakistan and Australia later this month are being moved from Rawalpindi to Lahore because of domestic politics, the country’s interior minister revealed on Friday.

Australia are currently on their first tour of the country since 1998, having previously declined to visit over security fears.

There have been no serious threats directed at the team since their arrival last month. However several political rallies both for and against a government led by former Pakistan skipper Imran Khan are planned in the nearby capital in the coming days and weeks.

It is feared that hundreds of thousands of people could descend on the capital during the rallies, choking traffic and causing security problems for officials.

Islamabad, where both teams were due to stay, is just a short drive away from the vastly bigger garrison city of Rawalpindi.

“The matches are being shifted to Lahore because of political activities in the capital,” Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said at a news conference.

Australia have no issues with changes

An Australia team official said they had no issues with the change.

“In many ways it suits both teams as it means one less movement for players and officials,” he said.

Pakistan has struggled to attract touring sides since a fatal terror attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009.

Having been forced to play their home games abroad, mostly in the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan appeared to have reassured the cricket world it was safe when last year both New Zealand and England agreed to tour.

However they were left frustrated when the Black Caps hastily departed in September just minutes before their first match was due to start, citing security fears, and England postponed tours by both their men’s and women’s teams soon after.

The Australian team currently visiting has been warmly welcomed by Pakistani cricket fans, with the third match of the three-Test series due to start in Lahore on Monday.

On the field so far, the first two Test matches have been drawn.

The teams will also play three one-day internationals and one Twenty20 match before the Australians depart on April 6.