After nearly three-and-a-half years, Pakistan and cricket crazy fans will get a bit of international cricket at home today (21st) and tomorrow (22nd) when International World XI led by former Sri Lankan skipper Sanath Jayasuriya will take on Pakistan Star XI in two Twenty20 matches at the National Stadium Karachi. Pakistan’s 43-month long drought of international cricket has set to be ended today as the Pakistan All Stars XI will take on International World XI in the first of the two Twenty20 matches.
The international cricket activities were suspended in Pakistan after a terrorist attack at the Sri Lankan cricket team bus in March 2009 in which at least eight people, including six policemen, were killed while six Sri Lankan players were injured. Pakistan lost its hosting rights for the 2011 Cricket World Cup matches after the incident, which was scheduled to be jointly hosted by Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh.
Since that attack, Pakistan’s cricket team was compelled to play its home series on neutral venues in the other countries, especially, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This is for the first time that international cricketers — even if mostly retired from the game — will be playing in the country after the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team. Since then the ‘cricket-crazy’ nation fell off the cricket map and had to settle for either watching the game on television or travel elsewhere for live action, including home series matches hosted on neutral grounds.
The international cricket revival hope brightened in April when the Bangladesh cricket team was to tour Pakistan for a one-day and a T20 match in Lahore but they were stopped from doing so by the Dhaka High Court at the eleventh hour. Since the International World XI has already arrived in Karachi on Thursday, a last-minute cancellation is unlikely this time round. The event is the personal initiative of the Sindh Sports Minister M Ali Shah while the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has only provided the venue and allowed contracted players for participation in the matches.