AB de Villiers set to play two PSL matches in Lahore
What's the story?
Former South Africa captain AB de Villiers has confirmed that he will be visiting Lahore for two Pakistan Super League matches in March. The Lahore Qalandars batsman will be available for the team's first set of group matches in the UAE as well as the last two group matches at the Gaddafi Stadium before flying home due to family commitments.
In a press release, de Villiers stated, "I am delighted to confirm that I will represent Lahore Qalandars in front of our home crowds on 9 and 10 March, during the HBL PSL 2019. I look forward to revisiting the Gaddafi Stadium and aim to play my part in helping Lahore Qalandars achieve something they have been aspiring for since the inception of this tournament in 2016."
He added, "I am fully aware that cricket is like a second religion in Pakistan. I still remember the support and appreciation we received in 2007. Furthermore, I feel I have a role to play in helping international cricket return to Pakistan. These have been some of the motivating factors for me to return to Lahore."
In the past...
During South Africa's tour of Pakistan in 2007, the then 23-year-old de Villiers played Test matches in Karachi and Lahore. He also played three ODIs in Lahore as well as an ODI each in Faisalabad and Multan.
The heart of the matter
While announcing his retirement from international cricket last year, AB de Villiers had expressed his desire to continue playing franchise cricket in various T20 leagues across the globe. He will be making his debut in the PSL in the upcoming edition.
After being picked by Lahore Qalandars during the PSL draft in November, de Villiers had been touted to be available for only seven of the franchise's eight group matches in the UAE.
However, according to various media reports, it is understood that discussions with erstwhile Cricket South Africa CEO Haroon Lorgat (who has also served as a chief guest at a Lahore Qalandars development programme) convinced de Villiers to make himself available for Lahore's home matches at the Gaddafi Stadium too.
Joining his former national teammates Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir and David Miller, de Villiers will be the sixth high-profile South African cricketer to visit Pakistan since the 2009 terror attack on Sri Lankan cricketers. The aforementioned quintet was part of the World XI team which travelled to Lahore for a 3-match T20I series in 2017.
The 2019 PSL season will begin on February 14 and run until the final on March 17. The last four group matches, as well as the entirety of the knockout stages, will take place in Pakistan.
Lahore Qalandars take on Islamabad United and Multan Sultans at the Gaddafi Stadium on March 9 and 10. Apart from the group matches to be held in the UAE, AB de Villiers has also confirmed his availability for both those matches in Lahore.
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