Victim of 2009 Sri Lankan bus attack welcomes team's decision to visit Pakistan for T20 series
What’s the story?
Former Sri Lanka opener Tharanga Paranavitana, one of the six victims of the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus outside Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium, has said that the focus of the Sri Lankan players, who will be travelling to Pakistan for a limited-overs series, should be only on the game.
He also acknowledged the fact that Pakistan have done really well in recent tournaments and their fans, thus, deserve to watch games in their own backyard.
"It is a welcome move by our board and I support it. If our team is going there then the players should concentrate only on cricket and forget about that incident. The team should visit Pakistan as the fans there are deprived of good cricket.
"Pakistan are a good side now and if the situation has improved there, it is good to resume playing cricket," the 35-year-old cricketer told Mid-day yesterday.
"I think our boys have to play proper cricket. We hardly have two to three senior players and they will have to guide the youngsters," he added.
In case you didn’t know...
Pakistan, apart from hosting Zimbabwe in May 2015, have played all their home games in the UAE. No teams wanted to take the risk of travelling to the country after the 2009 attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore.
The heart of the matter
Pakistan were victorious in the 2017 Champions Trophy, beating arch-rivals India in the finals by 180 runs. Ever since then there have been several calls to bring cricket back to the war-torn nation. Aside from Sri Lanka, a World XI will also travel to Pakistan later this year.
After the success of the PSL final that was held in Lahore, where fans turned up in large numbers to the Gaddafi Stadium, there has been renewed hope that cricket, after eight years, can finally thrive in the country once again.
After a security assessment, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) Chief Thilanga Sumathipala has reportedly cleared the team to play three T20s in Pakistan in September.
The return of cricket into the country will be eagerly awaited by all the fans, especially considering the kind of success Pakistan have had in recent times.