Du Plessis hails Pak­istan progress

Muscat Daily - - SPORTS -

La­hore, Pak­istan - South African skip­per Faf du Plessis Satur­day ad­mit­ted he was ner­vous ahead of the World XI tour of Pak­istan but praised the hosts for en­sur­ing a safe se­ries which he said would help its re­vival of in­ter­na­tional cricket.

Apart from five lim­ite­dovers games against min­nows Zim­babwe in 2015, Pak­istan had not hosted top-level in­ter­na­tional cricket since ter­ror­ists at­tacked the bus of the vis­it­ing Sri Lankan team in March 2009, killing eight peo­ple and wound­ing seven play­ers and staff.

"When I first thought of com­ing, ob­vi­ously there was lit­tle bit of ner­vous­ness within my­self," said du Plessis, who led the World XI for the Twenty20 three match se­ries.

"Now go­ing through this week with com­plete dif­fer­ent emo­tions and feel­ings, I'm very happy with our time here, we've re­ally en­joyed it as a team," he told an end-of-tour press con­fer­ence.

Pak­istan cel­e­brated the re­turn of in­ter­na­tional cricket with a thump­ing 33-run win at La­hore's Gaddafi Sta­dium on Fri­day to clinch the se­ries 2-1.

Host­ing the short se­ries is a ma­jor step to­wards con­vinc­ing in­ter­na­tional teams to re­turn, with Sri Lanka al­ready due to play a Twenty20 match in La­hore on Oc­to­ber 29.

Du Plessis said he was deeply im­pressed by his time in La­hore but was not sure he could con­vince South Africa to tour just yet.

"I can just re­late my ex­pe­ri­ences over here, but they will have to be a com­plete dif­fer­ent set of things put in place for South Africa to come and tour here," he said.

"What I can say is the fact that we've been in La­hore here now and we did feel safe," he said.

"If you do out all those things that were in place (for this se­ries) then def­i­nitely another step, another step, another step, to hope­fully (bring) cricket back into Pak­istan."

World XI coach Andy Flower agreed Pak­istan was mak­ing progress to­wards re­viv­ing in­ter­na­tional cricket.

"This is the step taken in the right di­rec­tion. This is one step for­ward, it's been very suc­cess­ful and very well re­ceived here in Pak­istan, here in La­hore," said the ex-Eng­land coach, who as­sem­bled a World XI with play­ers from seven coun­tries.

"The cov­er­age of the three games around the world has gone down very well. The se­cu­rity op­er­a­tions has made play­ers safe and se­cure, so first step has been taken so there will be more steps along the way," said Flower.

"I've never been part of a game where there's been so much emo­tions and ap­pre­cia­tive­ness from the crowd when they are cheer­ing you as if you are play­ing at your own home crowd," he said.

Faf du Plessis

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