International cricket comes home: Pakistan welcomes World XI superstars

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World XI superstars arrive in Pakistan to play three Twenty20 matches

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The much-awaited moment for Pakistan cricket fans is here! The International Cricket Council’s (ICC) World XI players arrived at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport early Monday morning for a three-match T20 series against Pakistan kicks off at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Najam Sethi welcomed the star-studded team, led by South Africa’s Faf du Plessis.

The World XI tour is a major breakthrough for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), which had been working to attract international cricket to the country.

Andy Flower — the coach of World XI — said he was looking forward to a good series against Pakistan. “It’s great to be here; we’re looking forward to seeing a lot of you watching the great cricket we put on the show,” said Flower.

The World XI features du Plessis’ countrymen Hashim Amla and David Miller, plus Bangladesh’s Tamim Iqbal, New Zealand’s Grant Elliott, England’s Paul Collingwood and Australia’s George Bailey, Tim Paine and all-rounder Ben Cutting in a strong batting line-up.

Another member of the squad, West Indian World Twenty20-winning captain Darren Sammy, said it was important the “passionate” fans in Pakistan got to experience cricket in their own country.

The World XI is scheduled to play three T20 matches of the Independence Cup in Lahore on September 12, 13, and 15, in a historic series which sees international cricket return to the country after a drought of eight years, barring a brief tour by Zimbabwe in 2015.

Some 8,000 police and paramilitary forces will guard teams as they travel back and forth from Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium.

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Cricket is glad to be back in Pakistan: ICC Director Giles Clarke

ICC Director Giles Clarke lauded efforts put in Pakistani cricket authorities and government agencies and the people’s passion to bring the cricket back to the country, calling the World XI’s tour a small step in a long journey.

Addressing a joint press conference with PCB chairman Najam Sethi, he said Ramiz Raja, Najam Sethi, Sharyar Khan played important role in restoration cricket in Pakistan. “Cricket is glad to be back in Pakistan,” he said.

ICC has been reviewing the security situation in Pakistan since 2011 and the World XI tour wouldn’t have been possible if the country had not held the final of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Lahore, he said.

Giles Clarke said visit wouldn’t have been able without the efforts of former Zimbabwe captain Andy Flower who played a vital role in assembling the players from different nations.

Andy Flower said he was happy and proud to be coach of the World XI team. “We are celebrating the return of international cricket to Pakistan. This brave nation had to suffer absence of international cricket for a very long time,” Flower said.

The former Zimbabwean cricketer pointed out that Pakistan team had achieved a lot of significant milestones in the eight years that it had suffered isolation in the cricket world.

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World XI Superstars Arrive In Pakistan

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World XI tour bigger than just cricket: Faf du Plessis

South Africa’s Faf du Plessis, the captain of the World XI, said the historic tour to Pakistan is a rare opportunity for the players to be a part of something bigger than just cricket.

He was addressing a press conference in Lahore with World XI coach Andy Flower, following the team’s arrival in the country earlier today. “When I sit down with my family some day and we talk about this.. it’s something I would be glad to have been a part of,” du Plessis said expressing his excitement.

“I am proud to be captain of the World XI, to be bringing international cricket back to Pakistan,” he said, and thanked the Pakistani people for welcoming and hosting the team.

Salma Khan
Salma writes on topics ranging from education to technology to business. She can be reached at Twitter and Facebook.

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