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Misbah-ul-Haq feared Pakistan cricket was losing passion, interest

Misbah-ul-Haq, former Pakistan cricket team captain, has said he feared that youngsters were losing interest in cricket and hoped that the ICC World XI series would bring international cricket series back to the country.

cricket Updated: Sep 16, 2017 11:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Pakistan cricket team,ICC World XI,Misbah-ul-Haq
Misbah-ul-Haq has expressed hope that the successful hosting of the ICC World XI series could bring in more international tours by countries to Pakistan.(AFP)

Misbah-ul-Haq, former Pakistan skipper, has revealed there was a fear that passion for cricket was dying in country as the youth were no longer attracted by the sport. However, with the successful conduct of the ICC World XI series, Pakistan could see the return of Test cricket on home soil eventually, encouraging youngsters to start thinking about making a career in cricket.

“In the last couple of years, passion in Pakistan cricket was dying. Youngsters were playing cricket and trying to become international cricketers. I think once international cricket is here, you are just watching every game and Test matches with top stars in the world, live… that is something which obviously attracts youngsters to start thinking about cricket again.”

Pakistan’s fans are proud as well as relieved having successfully hosted a star-studded ICC World XI for a three-match series. The country had not hosted an international team until Zimbabwe toured the country for a short limited-overs series in 2015. A terrorist attack on Sri Lankan team bus in 2009 had kept international teams away from Pakistan.

The Independence Cup concluded Friday at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, with Pakistan clinching the series 2-1 in front of the raucous and passionate home crowd longing to watch international cricket.

“Pakistan waited (for) long; almost nine years. This (hosting international cricket) should happen in Pakistan and finally we got this breakthrough (series against ICC World XI). Pakistan Super League and Zimbabwe (series) were the first two steps. Some of the guys, (like) Thisara (Perera) from Sri Lanka and (from) West Indies. It is a full-fledged World XI,” Misbah told ESPNCricinfo.

Pakistan will now be gearing up for a ‘home’ series against Sri Lanka which will be played in the UAE. However, the final game of that series — a T20I fixture — is slated to be played in Lahore. Pakistan are also trying to organise their bilateral series against West Indies on home soil.

The former captain is confident that Pakistan will soon be able to host more international sides after the conclusion of the series against the ICC World XI. “I think this will go a long way and now it looks like that international cricket is going to be soon started in Pakistan. I am looking forward to Sri Lanka and then hopefully West Indies and then a full-fledged series. It is good for Pakistan cricket,” he said.

Misbah said Pakistan should concentrate on bringing Test cricket back on home soil, as the ‘ultimate’ format of the game would help produce cricketers for the future.

“We need to revive one-day cricket and then Test cricket because that is the ultimate. That is how you develop your cricketers, develop your cricket. Once you are good in Test cricket, once it is being played on your own soil…” he said.

First Published: Sep 16, 2017 11:33 IST