‘Terrorists cannot win and cricket must not give up on Pakistan’
Pakistani fans during the visit of of Zimbabwe in 2015, the last time an international side visited Pakistan.
First came the Zimbabweans to Lahore and got cheered like they were playing in Harare.
Then came Darren Sammy and celebrated near Liberty Chowk like he was from Peshawar, and had conquered Quetta (he had).
Now an ICC World XI is set to play at the Gaddafi Stadium under towering lights against Pakistan’s best XI in a series that holds international status.
Pakistan’s long and hard roadmap to international cricket has been paved in the same city where the terrorists attacked the Sri Lankan national team and turned the clock back on Pakistan cricket by a decade.
But the vision and persistence of the PCB administration under Najam Sethi has made its biggest headway yet in bringing international cricket back to Pakistan, to his hometown, Lahore.
The UBL Independence Cup 2017 is a heart-warming display of world solidarity with Pakistan cricket. Players from seven nations with a combined total of six World T20 titles under their belt and a cumulative experience of 510 international T20 games will hold centre stage in front of a cricket-mad Pakistani audience.
This is the first time an ICC World XI will play an official T20 international game against a member nation. In the only other international instance, an ICC World XI was put up against a formidable Australian outfit in 2005. Australia won the solitary Test by 201 runs and clean swept the ODI series 3-0 Down Under. It was a team at the peak of its powers, in a time it ruled in, against a generation it bullied.
Yet, it is still difficult for a combined star-studded team to play against a regular national team that has played and practiced together for a longer period. However, in cricket’s shortest format, impact players can change the course of the game in a matter of a few overs, if not balls. And the ICC World XI sent to Pakistan has plenty of them.