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Pakistan’s aspirations of hosting international cricket again received a huge boost on Friday (June 23) with the International Cricket Council confirmed its plans of sending a World XI team to the country later this year for a three-match T20 series.
“Plans for a World XI to play in Pakistan later this year continue to be developed as the ICC Board confirmed its support of Pakistan’s efforts to bring international cricket back to Pakistan,” said ICC in a statement after its board meeting in London.
“In light of this the Board agreed to support the staging of a Pakistan v World XI event in Lahore later this year, a three-game series of T20 games that will be accorded international status,” it added.
Barring Zimbabwe’s visit for a limited-overs series a couple of years ago, no major Test team has toured Pakistan since the attack on Sri Lankan team in Lahore in 2009. Consequently, Pakistan have had to play all of their ‘home’ matches outside of the country in United Arabia Emirates.
But talks of bringing international cricket back to Pakistan began gaining the steam after the successful staging of the Pakistan Super League final in Lahore earlier this year. Giles Clarke, the head of Pakistan’s Task Force Team in ICC, had presented the idea of sending a world XI team to Pakistan after he visited the country earlier this year.
“The desire is to give the cricket-starved Pakistani supporters the chance to see some of the world’s finest players in live action. Furthermore, the terrorists cannot win and cricket must not give up on Pakistan,” he had told The Guardian in March.
Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed had also expressed his desire of seeing international cricket in his country after leading his team to the historic Champions Trophy title.
“I hope this win will boost Pakistan cricket and all the (major) playing nations will come to Pakistan,” he had said.
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur also hoped that the plans of a series comprising of World XI and the Men in Green – Pakistan – would go ahead as planned.
“We’re scheduled to have a World XI in Pakistan in September for three Twenty20 games. So hopefully that starts paving the way for future tours. We can only hope,” the South African had said.