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February 21, 2020

Pakistan a great place to tour, says Sangakkara

Sports

 
February 21, 2020

LAHORE: After the conclusion of the Marylebone Cricket Club’s week-long tour of Lahore, Kumar Sangakkara, the president of the prestigious MCC and captain of the club’s touring squad to Pakistan, has said that he would love if more international teams consider touring Pakistan so international cricket in the country can be resumed in full force.

The MCC arrived in Lahore on February 13 to play a 50-over and three T20-over matches. Over the course of their stay, the visitors explored the city by playing golf, visiting the historic Lahore Fort and enjoying dinners across Lahore.

Speaking to the PCB Podcast, the batting great said: “It’s been great to be back in Pakistan. “It’s been a long time since I came here and it has been even longer for the MCC. For us, it has been about coming here and playing cricket in support of Pakistan’s journey of getting international cricket back.

“It’s important that, when you are in a country on a tour, you’re not confined to a hotel, but you can go around and enjoy the city and the country you’re in.

“It is excellent for us to get to the Lahore Gymkhana golf course quite a few times. The players absolutely loved it. We were hosted with some amazing hospitality and warmth. “The message we will be taking back is about the warmth of the people, the welcome of the fabulous spectators who came to watch cricket, the passion the players and people have for it and our own experiences of playing here and traveling about in Lahore.

“We would love for teams to consider coming here so that international cricket can finally come back to Pakistan in full force.”

In the last three months, Sri Lanka have played two Tests — in Rawalpindi and Karachi — and Bangladesh have been here twice for a three-match T20I series and a Test in Rawalpindi. With the fifth edition of the HBL Pakistan Super League, commencing today, being hosted in Pakistan for the first time since the advent of the league, the MCC’s visit rubberstamps the country’s ability to host international cricket.

“It is important things are put into context, moves are made, minds meet and things are reconsidered because the message that we take back is that Pakistan is a great place to tour,” Sangakkara said.

“I remember all those matches that I’ve played here but it’s always special to come back and revisit it. We never expected such a big crowd for a first game against the Qalandars. When we got to the ground, we had almost 19,000 people, hungry to watch some cricket.

“We were really, really impressed and we’re very, very moved and we understand very, very easily how much passion there is and how the lack of international cricket is not a great thing for Pakistan, for the people, for the players and for the financial status of the PCB.”