By Muhammad Luqman
Lahorites had to wait for long 8 years to witness the restoration of international cricket in this part of the world. With the holding of first T-20 match against world XI team, the international cricket has finally staged a comeback in Pakistan. After the horrific militant attack on the touring Sri Lankans in Lahore in 2009, the country had become a no-go zone for the foreign teams with Zimbabwe being the only team to tour Pakistan for an international series in 2015.
On Tuesday night in Lahore, cricket took the centre stage with over 20,000 people turning up to watch the players they perhaps had seen only on television screens before. Such was the pull of the event that every news channel had made ample room for cricket in the bulletins. While the prices of the tickets were on the higher side – the maximum being 8,000 Rupees (US $ 80), the car-for-hire app Uber facilitated the cricket lovers by taking them to the stadium at a flat rate of 111 Rupees ( US $ 1.1).
Lahore has been in a festive mood since the World XI team arrived in the wee hours of Monday.
The players travelled to play the first match at the historic Gaddafi Stadium amid tight security with a large contingent of law enforcement agencies overseeing every move.
The visitors lost the game by 20 runs but the cricket on the night was bigger than sport.
It was a important occasion for the home team too as five of their players, Fakhar Zaman, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali and Rumman Raees, played on the home soil for the first time.
The idea of the World XI tour was mooted a year ago and the Pakistan Super League final in Lahore this year played a huge role in making it happen.
Building on the successful holding of the Independence Cup, the Pakistan Cricket Board is in advanced discussion with Sri Lanka for a one-off T20 international in Lahore next month and with West Indies for a three-match T20 series in November.
By Muhammad Luqman