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Pakistan vs World XI: Fans celebrate return of international cricket

Cricket fans in Pakistan are seeing international cricket return to the country after two years ad during the team’s first game against ICC World XI, the atmosphere at Lahore’s Gadaffi stadium was festive and joyous.

cricket Updated: Sep 13, 2017 13:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Pakistan vs World XI,ICC World XI,World XI
Fans were in a festive mood at Lahore as international cricket returned to Pakistan after a gap of two years with the ‘Independence Cup’ against the ICC World XI.(AFP)

Pakistani fans are in a festive mood after the series that marks the return of international cricket in their country after two years began on Tuesday evening amid tight security

The home side, playing the first T20I of their ‘Independence Cup’ series, defeated the ICC World XI captained by South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis by 20 runs. The Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore turned into a fortress for the series opener, and similar scenes can be expected for the next two games at this venue, to be played on Wednesday and Friday.

The ICC World XI players arrived in Tuk-Tuks ahead of the first Twenty20 International at Lahore. ( REUTERS )

The atmosphere inside the stadium was electrifying to say the least, and as evening approached, even social media was flooded by a sea of Pakistani fans celebrating the ‘return of cricket’ on their land.

The Zimbabweans had toured Pakistan for a limited-overs series back in 2015, but it is the ICC World XI — consisting players from as many as seven countries and a Zimbabwean cricketing great in name of Andy Flower as their coach — has captured the attention of the nation like no other.

From former cricketers such as Shoaib Akhtar to Mohammad Hafeez — who is not a part of the Pakistani side for this series — as well as the fans have celebrated the occasion.

In a video interview to ESPNCricinfo, a female fan expressed the wish to get an Indian team to Pakistan for a bilateral series.

Despite heavy security, Pakistan fans still came out in large numbers to witness the team taking on the ICC World XI. ( AFP )

She said, “I watched the Zimbabwe versus Pakistan match. It was a very different experience as I would watch these players on TV and I was watching them in reality. The feeling of being in a cricket-mad crowd gets to you. You get in such a rhythm that despite being a Pakistani you start supporting the other team.”

“Despite all the provinces and the differences we become ‘Pakistan’. You get a feeling of patriotism. Sports is something that has a very positive impact on the society. There were security issues earlier, but once it gets sorted out, when we know we have infused confidence in other teams like Zimbabwe, we even had the PSL final here, we can get other teams here, especially India.”

“Even if I have to play PKR 2,000 or even PRK 6,000, I will go and watch,” said another.

First Published: Sep 13, 2017 13:04 IST