JOHANNESBURG Pakistan are losing ground on test rivals because they cannot host international teams owing to security concerns and accordingly play fewer test matches, captain Misbah-ul-Haq said on Monday.
As his team prepared to take on the world's top-ranked test team South Africa in the three-test series starting in Johannesburg on February 1, Misbah said Pakistan were at a disadvantage because of the "limitations".
"As a team it is very difficult when you not playing a format on a regular basis. You really have to work hard. But we have to adjust, you could say it is a limitation for us but we are professionals, we have to do well," he told a news conference.
"We don't have home series and when you aren't playing at home then you miss a lot of cricket and you play only about five or six tests a year when other teams are playing 15 or 16 tests a year. It really does affect your team."
Pakistan have not hosted a test-playing team since armed militants attacked the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009, killing eight Pakistanis and wounding six Sri Lankan players.
Their 'home' matches since then have been held at neutral venues, mostly in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, while Pakistan have not played a test series anywhere since July last year.
Misbah said that the success of the two-match series between a World XI and a Pakistani All Star team in October last year showed that Pakistan could safely host international matches.
"Pakistan is such a big cricketing nation and the world has to think about bringing international cricket back (to Pakistan).
"The T20 tournament in Pakistan saw full stadiums for every match. There were no (security) concerns. The people should have international cricket," he said.
Misbah's words were echoed by Pakistan team manager Naveed Akram Cheema who said that the situation in Pakistan was a lot safer than outsiders perceived.
"Our people in Pakistan are being deprived of international cricket. There is a difference between perception and reality. People don't come (to Pakistan) on the pretext of security concerns. But I can tell you that it is as safe as any country in the world," he said.
Bangladesh were due to tour Pakistan this month but it was postponed for security reasons.
(Editing by Justin Palmer)