Pakistan-Zimbabwe series to proceed despite Gaddafi Stadium suicide bombing
Zimbabwe will go ahead with their third and final one-day international against Pakistan on Sunday at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore despite security concerns after a suicide bomber blew himself up close to the stadium on Friday night during the second ODI.
"The incident hasn't affected the tour and Zimbabwe will play its last match of the tour as planned," PCB spokesman Agha Akbar told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Akbar also said that all the tickets for Sunday's game have been sold out and a crowd of around 27,000 is expected.
Zimbabwe team spokesman Lovemore Banda confirmed the team would go ahead with the game. He said in a statement that "capital city police officer Amin Vaince said what occurred was a cylinder blast which killed two people and their forensics experts are examining remains from the explosion to ascertain the cause."
Information minister Pervez Rashid told Geo TV that a police officer was killed and six were wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up, nearly one kilometre from the stadium.
PCB's chief operating officer Subhan Ahmed accompanied Vaince for a meeting with Zimbabwe officials and players at the team hotel on Saturday, reassuring them that efficient security measures would be in place.
"He (Vaince) assured the travelling party of continued safety on the tour, and said the fact that the blast occurred outside their red zone means that the security measures put in place for the tour were not breached," Banda said.
A loud explosion was heard inside the stadium, but the game didn't stop as Pakistan won it by six wickets and took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the ODI series.
Initially, police claimed the explosion was caused by electric transformer, in an apparent bid to avoid panic inside the stadium where at least 20,000 spectators were watching the game.
Thousands of policemen had been deployed outside the stadium and spectators had to endure several checkpoints while waiting in long queues hours before the start of the day/night matches at 4pm local time (1100 GMT).
Zimbabwe is the first Test-playing nation to tour Pakistan in six years since gunmen attacked on Sri Lanka team bus - also in Lahore - in 2009. Six police officials and a van driver were killed during the ambush while wounding several Sri Lanka players.
Eager to avoid a repeat of that incident and push the case for a full return of international cricket to the country, Pakistan's government has provided VIP-level security to Zimbabwe's team. A fleet of security vans with armed gunmen shield the team buses during their travel from hotel to the stadium. Zimbabwe arrived on May 19 to play two Twenty20s and three ODIs.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has given official status to the series, but declined to send its match officials to Pakistan due to security concerns.