ICC backs re­turn of in­ter­na­tional matches in Pak­istan

Stabroek News - - SPORT -

LA­HORE, Pak­istan, (Reuters) - The In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil (ICC) has agreed to back Pak­istan’s ef­forts to re­sume in­ter­na­tional cricket in their own coun­try and said it would pro­vide fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance for se­cu­rity needs.

Pak­istan is cur­rently host­ing a World XI cricket team for three T20 games in the eastern city of La­hore, a series that is be­ing touted as a wa­ter­shed mo­ment for those bid­ding to re­store in­ter­na­tional cricket in the coun­try.

ICC Chief Ex­ec­u­tive David Richard­son called the matches an “im­por­tant step­ping stone” for Pak­istan to earn the “con­fi­dence of the in­ter­na­tional sport­ing com­mu­nity”.

Pak­istan has hosted only one in­ter­na­tional series since mil­i­tants at­tacked a bus car­ry­ing the Sri Lankan cricket team in La­hore in 2009, wound­ing six players and killing two civil­ians and six se­cu­rity of­fi­cials.

“The ICC has al­ready agreed to in­vest in se­cu­rity and im­prov­ing the se­cu­rity ca­pa­bil­i­ties for a three-year pe­riod,” Richard­son said, adding that he would like to see other coun­tries send­ing their teams to Pak­istan.

Speak­ing at a press brief­ing yes­ter­day ahead of the sec­ond T20 match at the Gaddafi Sta­dium, Richard­son said the matches were an ex­am­ple of the “the cricket fam­ily ... stick­ing to­gether to help a par­tic­u­lar mem­ber coun­try.”

Fans have been clam­our­ing for the re­turn of in­ter­na­tional cricket since March af­ter the fi­nal of the do­mes­tic T20 Pak­istan Su­per League, fea­tur­ing high­pro­file for­eign players such as World Cup win­ner Dar­ren Sammy, was held in La­hore.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing the im­por­tance of that event, Richard­son said that the cur­rent three-match series would go a long way to­wards con­vinc­ing other coun­tries that Pak­istan could safely host their teams.

Pak­istan won the series opener on Tues­day by 20 runs, spurred by a quick­fire 86 by bats­man Babar Azam be­fore hold­ing off a star-stud­ded World XI bat­ting line-up led by South African cap­tain Faf du Plessis.

Ricky Deonarain, left, and Shawn Mas­siah af­ter a fine un­beaten part­ner­ship that led their team to vic­tory.

Babar Azam

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