World XI series in Pakistan is about much more than just cricket

Faf du Plessis is delighted to help bring the international game back to Pakistan

Pakistan vs. World XI cricket
World XI captain Faf du Plessis and Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmad 
(Image credit: Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images)

When the World XI team takes to Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium pitch today, it will mark the first major international cricket event in Pakistan for eight years.

Since the terror attack on the Sri Lanka squad in Lahore in March 2009, Pakistan have played home matches at neutral venues abroad. Six policemen and two civilians were killed in the attack, and seven Sri Lankan players were injured.

Zimbabwe are the only international side to have toured Pakistan since then, in 2015 - and that tour was marred by a bomb attack in Lahore.

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The BBC reports that security will be very tight for this week’s three-match Twenty20 series, which start today at 3pm UK time.

More than 8,000 police and paramilitary forces will be deployed, with the security measures seen as vital - even if it means the city is brought to a standstill. Quoted by Dunya News, Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Najam Sethi said: “To achieve a greater benefit, the nation will have to make small sacrifices.”

Security will be tight at the Gaddafi Stadium (Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images)

Coached by Andy Flower and captained by South African Faf du Plessis, the World XI squad features players from seven countries. Hashim Amla, George Bailey and Paul Collingwood are among the big names in the team.

Flower and Du Plessis both said they were excited to be part of the historic series.

“It’s great to be here,” said former Zimbabwe captain Flower. “We are looking forward to seeing a lot of you watching the great cricket that we are going to put on show and we’ve had a warm welcome already.”

“It is not just about cricket,” said Du Plessis. “This short tour is for something bigger. We are just happy that after a long time, Pakistani cricket fans can watch international action at home.

“You always try to find things to help you leave your mark, and this seemed like the sort of opportunity to do just that.

“As a cricketer, in a few years’ time, I will be able to look back and say that I played my part in bringing cricket back to Pakistan.”

Pakistan vs. World XI Twenty20 schedule

  • Today: 1st T20 international, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore (3pm)
  • Tomorrow: 2nd T20 international, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore (3pm)
  • Friday: 3rd T20 international, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore (3pm)

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