PAK vs SL 2017, 1st T20I: Everyone is Excited to Have Sri Lanka Back in Pakistan – Mohammad Hafeez
Pakistan’s desperate hope of reviving international cricket is set to receive a boost when they host Sri Lanka in the third match of the ongoing three-game T20 International series in Lahore.
Except for Zimbabwe in 2015, no team has visited Pakistan since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009. However, almost a decade after that unfortunate incident, there has been a welcome change in the scenario.
Earlier this year, Pakistan successfully staged the final of the Pakistan Super League in the Gadaffi stadium and recently hosted a World XI side in a three-match T20I series. The two successful staging gave Pakistan the much-needed confidence, and they are slowly but steadily heading towards their ultimate desire of bringing back international cricket to the country.
However, hosting Sri Lanka came with a lot of drama. Seven players including skipper Upul Tharanga and former skipper Lasith Malinga pulled out of the game in Lahore, and consequently, they got ruled out of the series. But eventually, Sri Lanka Cricket announced a new-look team with Thisara Perera getting appointed as the captain.
Pakistan would have liked to host a full-strength side but they will happily glad to play against the depleted Sri Lankan team, as veteran batsman Mohammad Hafeez said the country has been waiting to welcome the Sri Lankans.
“We would like to thank them from the bottom of our hearts and welcome them. Everyone is excited to have them back in Pakistan. The World XI visit was one of the first steps towards reviving cricket in Pakistan. With Sri Lanka coming it will be a great moment for Pakistan cricket. After this visit, I hope more teams will come to Pakistan. We want to host them with a lot of hospitality. It will be a great game god willing,” Hafeez said.
Hafeez was speaking after guiding Pakistan to a comfortable seven-wicket win in the first T20I. The 37-year-old took two for ten before scoring an unbeaten 23-ball 25 to help Pakistan chase down 103 with utmost ease.
The match, meanwhile, was Hafeez’s comeback game in the shortest format after he got overlooked for the World XI games.
When asked there was pressure to deliver, he said:
“It’s all about playing your role for the team. I wasn’t thinking that this was my comeback to the side or anything like that. I wasn’t there in the last series. Just wanted to play my role. We are playing really well, and Pakistan’s future is looking good as everyone is coming up with important performances.”
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