Kolkata: 12th September, 2017– a date every Pakistani cricket lover would never ever forget. It is the day when international cricket, along with some of it’s greatest stars would return to Pakistan after a period of eight years, when that terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus led to the country’s public being deprived from international cricket.
Although Pakistan hosted Zimbabwe for a short limited overs’ series in 2015, it wasn’t enough to convince the world that Pakistan was ready to host cricket matches at the highest level once again. What made their case for hosting international matches strong was the Champions Trophy victory earlier this year.
Now, here we are with the Independence Cup, which would feature a World XI side with names like Hashim Amla, Faf Du Plessis, Paul Collingwood among others. The three-match T20 series would be accorded international status and thus, an entirely new chapter in Pakistan cricket is all set to be written when this team clashes with the home side at the iconic Gaddafi stadium in Lahore on Wednesday.
On this historic occasion, ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar said, “This is a good day for world cricket as the PCB hosts a World XI in Lahore for three T20 International games. It has been a long and tough journey as the PCB, Pakistan players and fans have been starved of the opportunity to stage, play and watch international cricket in their own country. I am hopeful that today marks the start of the safe and steady return of international cricket to Pakistan.”
He then spoke about the establishment of Pakistan Task Force, which would work with the PCB, helping international cricket to return to the country on a permanent basis.
“The ability of Pakistan to play international cricket at home is crucial to the long term health of the game in Pakistan and one of the main reasons why the ICC established the Pakistan Task Force under the leadership of Giles Clarke, to explore, in partnership with the PCB, how we can get international cricket back to Pakistan safely and on a regular basis.”
“I send both teams and the PCB the very best wishes from the whole cricket family for a competitive series that the passionate fans in Pakistan can enjoy. I sincerely hope that this week’s games mark the start of a steady flow of international cricket to this great cricket nation,” he also added.
Both the teams look to be pretty much in the balance but the World XI side carries that extra edge with them courtesy the fact that they have that extra international experience which might come in handy as many of them would play in Pakistan for the very first time.
But the home team cannot be undermined by any chance as that historic Champions Trophy win over arch-rivals India in the final are still fresh in their memories.
Names like Mohammad Hafeez, Wahab Riaz and Kamran Akmal would miss out on this piece of the country’s cricketing history, young guns like Umair Amin, Usman Khan and Aamer Yamin have been included in Pakistan’s squad for the series. Left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir would miss out on the series as he is with his wife in England. The couple are expecting their first child.
A cracker of a contest awaits us from Lahore on Wednesday. We all hope that the Independence Cup is just the beginning for bigger and better things to come for Pakistan cricket in the future.
Pakistan- Sarfraz Ahmed(w/c), Shoaib Malik, Usman Khan, Fahim Ashraf, Umar Amin, Mohammad Nawaz, Imad Wasim, Aamer Yamin, Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali, Rumman Raees, Sohail Khan
World XI: Tim Paine(w), Faf du Plessis(c), Hashim Amla, Grant Elliott, David Miller, George Bailey, Paul Collingwood, Ben Cutting, Tamim Iqbal, Darren Sammy, Thisara Perera, Imran Tahir, Morne Morkel, Samuel Badree