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cricket:image:1210921 [110x62] (Credit: PA Photos)

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The PCB has proposed a February 19 start to the Champions Trophy next year in Pakistan. ESPNcricinfo understands the PCB has pencilled the tournament to be played from February 19 to March 9, across Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore. Karachi will host three games, including the tournament opener as well as a semi-final, while Lahore plays host to seven, including the final. The other semi-final will be one of five contests to take place at Pindi Cricket Ground.

Several ICC officials have visited Pakistan to inspect arrangements to host the first ICC tournament in Pakistan since the 1996 World Cup. They include security and event officials as well as chief pitch inspector Andy Atkinson, and it is understood the PCB has received positive feedback from the ICC concerning logistics and arrangement, allowing it to press ahead with its plans.

The current dates, should they be finalised, mean the last third of the tournament will he held during Ramadan, just as the knockout stage of the PSL was last year. Some knockout games in Karachi saw an extremely low turnout during Ramadan. The PCB did try and accommodate for that by moving start times to a later 9pm, though with the Champions Trophy being an ODI tournament, that will not be possible. That means large parts of games will take place during the sunrise to sunset window where players observing Ramadan cannot eat or drink.

As ESPNcricinfo reported earlier, every game involving India at the tournament is slated to take place in Lahore. This means one semi-final will be moved from Karachi or Rawalpindi to Lahore should India qualify for the last four. Basing India in one city is thought to have been proposed because it avoids what could be considerable logistical and security complications around their travel. Additionally, by being based in Lahore, which is close to the Wagah border crossing between the two countries, it allows Indian fans a relatively easier option to visit.

As ever the main question in the run-up to the event will surround India's participation. The Indian team has not played in Pakistan since the Asia Cup in 2008, and there has been no bilateral series between the two since a white-ball visit by Pakistan in 2012-13. When the PCB hosted the Asia Cup last year, the workaround involved deploying a hybrid model that saw the bulk of the games - including all of India's - take place in Sri Lanka with the final, which India won, held in Colombo. The BCCI has maintained the decision to travel to Pakistan rests in the hands of the Indian government.

Every side other than India involved in the upcoming Champions Trophy has travelled to Pakistan since cricket returned to the country in 2015. Pakistan will also host an ODI tri-series featuring South Africa and New Zealand before the tournament.

Pakistan are the defending champions, having won the last Champions Trophy in 2017.