Six years ago, in Lahore, some unidentified gunmen opened fire on the Sri Lankan Cricket Team on their way to the Ghaddafi Stadium. Three people were killed and several were listed injured including the then Sri Lankan captain, Mahela Jayawardene along with his fellows; Kumar Sangakkara, Ajantha Mendis, Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paranavitana. That day was 3rd March 2009, and since then no test-playing nation has ever toured Pakistan for any cricket series, not even for a single match.
The government of Pakistan and the armed forces have been fighting against terrorism for years, but the country was never safe enough to host any of the international matches or tournaments. The Pakistan Cricket Team had to look for other countries to provide them with grounds to play cricket. It was then that United Arab Emirates, also called the second home for Pakistanis, stepped forward to give this troubled nation a hope and allowed them to play their home series at their grounds.
Since then, this nation had to play all their home games away from home. Many players came and many retired without getting to enjoy the pleasure of playing at home. Despite all these hardships, the crowd in UAE has never let them feel they were away from home. That crowd in UAE was a reason that Pakistan kept working hard and won several series over there, and most of them were won in a magnificent way.
Now, after six long years, International Cricket is about to return to the land that was craving for it. Zimbabwe have agreed to do a favour to Pakistan and tour the country for a short series in this month. May 2015 will see Pakistan’s star cricketers perform at home, which will be the climax of the International cricket revival in Pakistan. The Pakistan Cricket Board has assured maximum and fool-proof security to the Zimbabwe Cricket authorities and the visitors are satisfied with the security arrangements.
PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan says:
“Zimbabwe’s incident-free tour shall be the harbinger of more and more associate and full member nations visiting us in the months and years to come”
Mr. Khan is very optimistic that this series will open the doors for international cricket in the country that could not be opened in past few years. On the other hand, Zimbabwe officials are also happy to have a series in Pakistan. As the Zimbabwe Cricket managing director, Alistair Campbell said:
“We are touring Pakistan as a measure of establishing bilateral relations between us and them. They will also come to Zimbabwe in August”
This Pakistan vs Zimbabwe series will comprise of two Twenty20 Internationals and three One Day International matches, all to be held in Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore. The PCB wanted to distribute the matches between two cities, Karachi and Lahore, but later decided to keep one venue due to the visitors’ concern over extensive travelling.
The schedule of this upcoming series is as follows:
Game 1 – Friday, May 22 Pakistan vs Zimbabwe 19:00 local time
Game 2- Sunday, May 24 Pakistan vs Zimbabwe 19:00 local time
One Day Internationals:
Game 1- Tuesday, May 26 Pakistan vs Zimbabwe 14:00 local time
Game 2- Friday, May 29 Pakistan vs Zimbabwe 14:00 local time
Game 3- Sunday, May 31 Pakistan vs Zimbabwe 14:00 local time
Fans in Pakistan are already jumping in excitement to have the highest level of cricket back in town. Those in Lahore are planning to welcome the visitors in the best possible way and are gathering their tickets, while those in other cities are planning to travel to see the matches. The hype is already at its peak here in Pakistan and it is certain that this series will have a very big crowd of spectators attracted towards it.
For a nation that has had its stadiums empty and silent for the past six years, a visit by Zimbabwe is surely the best gift they could get since 2009’s tragedy.
The whole Pakistani nation hopes and prays that this series ends safely and does not face anything that might cause any further damage to the International Cricket revival in Pakistan.