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Pakistan take big step as World come to play

Posted September 11th, 2017, 12:39 PM IST

Pakistan take big step as World come to play

Pakistan take a huge step towards reviving international cricket at home after years of isolation when they host a three-match Twenty20 series amid tight security against a star-studded World XI, starting Tuesday.

The series will be the most high-profile in the cricket-mad country since a 2009 militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore left eight dead and drove away international cricket and most other sports.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have high hopes that the series will close that dark chapter for good — and allow a new generation of players to experience the thrill of playing before a home crowd for the first time.

Juts five members of the current squad have done that before — skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Sohail Khan and Ahmed Shehzad.

“I can assure all Pakistan cricket fans that we have missed playing in front of them,” Ahmed said.

“But I am confident that through this tour more cricket will come our way and we will (do) our best to win for home fans.”

“Everybody involved in the series will realise there are bigger issues at stake than winning at cricket,” said World XI coach and former Zimbabwe batsman Andy Flower.

“However, I think when these excellent players get together as a team, their competitive juices will undoubtedly flow and they will come together and be doing everything in their power to win those games.

“I’m pretty certain about that,” added the former England coach.

Security has dramatically improved in Pakistan in recent years, but militant groups retain the ability to carry out spectacular attacks and officials are taking no chances.

Some 8,000 police and paramilitary forces will guard teams as they travel back and forth from Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium.

Roads and shops will be closed around the 27,000-capacity venue.

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