By Muhammad Luqman
Pakistan and Sri Lanka will have a face off first time in Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium on Sunday after eight years , marking the return of international cricket to the South Asian country. No team from any major cricketing nation has visited Pakistan since March 3, 2009 when a bus carrying Lankans was attacked by the terrorists in the same city .
Thousands of security personnel will be deployed in the city when the teams of Sri Lanka and Pakistan arrive from the UAE early Sunday and play match in the evening.
Asanka Gurusinha and Hashan Tillakaratne, who came under gunfire in 2009 and are now Sri Lanka’s team manager and batting coach, will be with the squad as it is shuttled in and out of Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium under heavy guard, according to media reports.
Pakistan’s Ahsan Raza, a reserve umpire in 2009 who was among injured— and underwent surgery to repair a collapsed lung and damaged liver — will also be on the field.
Eight people were killed and eight wounded in the March 3, 2009 attack on Sri Lanka’s bus convoy at upscale Liberty Roundabout near the Gaddafi Stadium.
Sunday’s game, the third and final Twenty20 — with the other two played in UAE — comes after Lahore also hosted this year’s Pakistan Super League final and a one-off fixture between Pakistan and an ICC-sponsored World XI last month.
Sunday’s Twenty20 international is being hailed as a brave decision by Sri Lanka and a milestone for Pakistan as it attempts to end its sporting isolation.
Thousands of security personnel will guard routes to the stadium, and air surveillance and intelligence monitoring is also in place as Pakistan rolls out head-of-state level measures, according to anAFP report.
Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Najam Sethi has called the match a “historic moment”, saying that a generation of fans in the cricket-crazy country have grown up without seeing any international games in their home stadiums.
By Muhammad Luqman