Cricket is finally returning to Pakistan. After a lot of deliberation, a decision was reached to conduct a Pakistan vs World XI series this month. Credit has to go to the ICC (International Cricket Council), the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) and more importantly the players for accepting the invitation to go to Pakistan and play a series.
A star-studded World XI side who will be led by South African skipper Faf du Plessis comprises players from seven countries, indicating that the cricketing world has given a green signal for international cricket to resume in Pakistan. The Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore is expected to be jam-packed when Pakistan and World XI face off in three T20Is across the span of five days.
It’s been more than eight-and-a-half years since that morning in Lahore when a bus carrying Sri Lankan cricketers was attacked by militants. The attack injured at least seven Sri Lankan players including Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera, who was hospitalized as a bullet pierced 12 inches into his right leg.
Since then, no team has been willing to visit the nation (except Zimbabwe in 2015).
Earlier this year, the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final was held in Lahore and the security provided for that match was magnificent. The PCB has promised similar if not better security for the upcoming series.
As the world gets ready to witness cricket in a country which has a population of about 193.2 million, here are five reasons why the return of cricket to Pakistan is a welcome move.
Pakistan deserve to play at home
It’s been more than 100 months since Pakistan last played a series at home, barring the Zimbabwe one. Like all the other teams, Pakistan also deserve to play at home. They have played all their home games in an adopted venue i.e. the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since 2009 and the crowd turnout for international games has been very poor. Pakistan, like all the other nations, deserve to play in front of the locals and get some much-needed home support.
The Pakistan cricket team will be very happy with the scheduling of the World XI series as well. They are in splendid form at the moment. Since April this year, they have lost only three games out of 12 in limited-overs cricket (ODIs and T20Is). In T20Is, their recent record has been excellent, with them winning 7 out their last 8 games.
They won the ICC Champions Trophy in June 2017. They entered the tournament as the No. 8-ranked team and nobody gave them a chance but the way they bounced back after the loss in the opening game against India was incredible.