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Sports

October 29, 2017
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Thanks to Sri Lanka for international cricket revival in Pakistan

Thanks to Sri Lanka for international cricket revival in Pakistan

International cricket is returning to Pakistan today when Sri Lanka will play a Twenty20 International at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

After playing two Tests, five one-day internationals and two T20Is in the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan's 'home ground', they have arrived in Lahore to play the third and final match of T20I series.

This is a courageous step taken by Sri Lanka when other countries are reluctant to tour Pakistan due to security reasons.

However, Sri Lanka had agreed to play one match in Lahore, an important city of Pakistan, where they were attacked by terrorists on their way to Gaddafi Stadium on March 03, 2009.

Five Sri Lankan players were injured in the attack when they were heading towards Gaddafi Stadium on the third day of an ongoing Test match.

The tour was cancelled and Pakistan’s status as a host nation came under serious doubts, which eventually led to the suspension of cricket for a long time. PCB has since been suffering from huge financial losses besides missing international cricket at home.

Pakistani players were forced to face seclusion and play cricket away from home following the ghastly attack. The stadiums remained empty for a long time.

Now, Pakistan's sports isolation has ended with today´s Twenty20 international for which Sri Lanka has agreed to play. This was a brave decision by Sri Lanka to become the first major cricket team to visit Pakistan since 2009.

Today´s game comes after Lahore also hosted this year´s Pakistan Super League (PSL) final and a one-off fixture between Pakistan and a World XI last month.

Although Pakistan hosted Zimbabwe for a five-match limited overs series in 2015 but that didn’t help restore confidence among the cricket nations.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi has called it a "historic moment", saying that a generation of fans in the cricket-mad country has grown up without seeing any international games in their home stadiums.

Special security arrangements have been made for this historic match as thousands of security personnel will guard routes to the stadium, and air surveillance and intelligence monitoring is also in place.

Sri Lanka´s sports minister Dayasiri Jayasekara is also joining his national team on their match in Lahore.

He said Sri Lanka was satisfied with security preparations for the Twenty20 final in Lahore despite reservations from some players.

"It is safe for our team. I am accompanying them to demonstrate that it is safe for us," Jayasekara told reporters in Colombo. "The ICC (International Cricket Council) has also said it is safe for us to tour Pakistan."

Let's hope this T20 match will open the doors of international cricket in Pakistan and our people will have the chance to see other top teams in the country in coming years.

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