UAE: Always a happy hunting ground for Pakistan

Pakistan was forced to play its "home" matches in the UAE ever since terrorists attacked the bus of the visiting Sri Lankan team in March 2009.

Sarfraz Ahmed and his team boast an enviable record at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, where they've played 27 internationals, won 13 and lost 12; recording a win percentage of 48.   -  AFP

As Pakistan returns to happy hunting ground UAE, ahead of its Asia Cup campaign opener against Hong Kong, it'll be high on confidence.

Pakistan was forced to play its "home" matches in the UAE ever since terrorists attacked the bus of the visiting Sri Lankan team in March 2009.

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And, while three official T20s in Lahore last year between the World XI led by Faf du Plessis and Pakistan raised hopes of a cricket-starved nation, it wasn't until after April of 2018 — Karachi hosted its first international fixture in nine years when the host nation took on West Indies for three T20s — that the perception about playing international cricket again in Pakistan started changing.

That being said, Sarfraz Ahmed and his team boast an enviable record at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, where they've played 27 internationals, won 13 and lost 12; recording a win percentage of 48.

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Pakistan has hosted Sri Lanka, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and England in ODIs (total 16). It has won seven ODIs and lost 9, a win percentage of 43.75.

However, it has a better record in Test cricket, having won six of the 11 Tests played at the venue, losing just three. Among its notable performances is the 3-0 series win over England and a  win over Australia.

At the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, Pakistan — in 10 Tests — has a win percentage of 50, losing only once to Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, it has played 32 ODIs in Abu Dabhi, winning 16 while going down in as many games.

Arch-rival India locked horns with Pakistan in a two-ODI series in 2006. Pakistan won the first by six wickets but India levelled the series with a 51-run win in the next match.

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Pakistan's stellar record in the UAE is nothing new — Sharjah is also a venue at which it has enjoyed success in limited-overs cricket in the past. In the 124 ODIs Pakistan has played there, it has bagged wins in 83 matches and lost 40 — an astounding win percentage of 69.6. Between 1984-2000, Pakistan beat India 18 times in 24 matches, completely dominating its formidable neighbour.

In Test whites, Pakistan has won four matches and lost as many in Sharjah.

Suffice to say then that the teams taking part in the ongoing Asia Cup, including tournament favourite India, will have quite a task at hand when they lock horns with Pakistan.