Kolkata: Following the 2009 terror attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan, international cricket had been exiled from the country. Pakistan was thus made to play all their matches at their makeshift home in the UAE and their cricket fans back home where deprived of international cricketing action.
But now, it is Sri Lanka, who have consented to travel to Pakistan for a three-match T20 series, which would involve a game in Lahore, the place where the terrorist attack had took place eight years back that had shut the doors for international cricket in the country.
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) chief Thilanga Sumathipala confirmed the development. In a statement, he said, “We have had our security experts visit and make an assessment; things look positive with improvement all over the country and especially with Lahore being cleared.”
“We have three T20 games coming up against Pakistan in September and we would like to play at least one of those games in Lahore,” he further added.
The deadly attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009 had left eight dead and had injured seven players, which had infused fear in the minds of the global cricketing fraternity and international cricket hasn’t been played in the country since that time. The only exception was Zimbabwe, who had toured Pakistan for three ODI’s and two T20I’s in 2015.
The Pakistan Super League (PSL) final which was held in Pakistan involving foreign players was also another instance which was a huge success as it proved that the country is ready to host international matches.
Interestingly, it is Sri Lanka who have opted to play in Pakistan, which would help the other teams take turns in touring the country as well.
Not only this, but Sumathipala has also come out in support of international cricket to return to Pakistan, citing their own example of terrorism in the island nation.
He also reminded the time when Sri Lanka was suffering from the conflict by the Tamil separatists in the mid 1990’s as a result of which many teams had stopped touring the country.
“Sri Lanka suffered through three decades of terrorism and war and at one stage, no one wanted to come here ─ Pakistan stood by us then, as did India,” said the SLC chief at an ACC meeting in Colombo few days back.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi also assured that history wouldn’t repeat itself as they have put in place strong security and surveillance systems.
According to reports from Dawn News, he was also grateful at this decision made by the SLC which would undoubtedly be a huge boost for international cricket to return to Pakistan once again after a big gap.
Sethi also believed that Sri Lanka’s decision to tour Pakistan would lead the other nations to travel to the country.
He said, “Once Sri Lanka has toured Pakistan, the door will be open for safe passage of other teams to the country.”