Sunday, 24 September, 2017

Playing for something bigger than cricket itself: Du Plessis on Pakistan tour

George Bailey and Ben Cutting look on as World XI arrives in Pakistan. Image courtesy Twitter @TheRealPCB George Bailey and Ben Cutting look on as World XI arrives in Pakistan. Image courtesy Twitter @TheRealPCB
Elias Hubbard | 12 September, 2017, 00:45

As of now, the excitement continues to build up for the three T20 clashes which sees Safraz Ahmed's men take on a star-laden 14-man World XI squad. We have a young team building up and we are fully prepared ahead of the game.

Shahid Hashmi, a Pakistan-based reporter of many decades, feels the process would take years.

Fourteen people died in 2002 after a suicide bombing outside the Karachi hotel used by the New Zealand cricket team, with the tourists leaving the country early. There is a tangible buzz across the country, particularly in Lahore, where all three games will be played. We hoped and now after eight long years, there are smiles on faces of Pakistanis.

With the improving security situation in Pakistan and favourable assessments by security experts, it is now deemed an injustice to keep Pakistan off the worldwide tour destination list.

World XI captain Faf du Plessis said that their tour of Pakistan is not just about playing a series but way bigger than that where the insane fans get a dose of top flight worldwide cricket.

David Miller Morne Morkel Faf du Plessis and Grant Elliot as World XI arrives in Pakistan. Image courtesy Twitter @TheRealPCB
David Miller Morne Morkel Faf du Plessis and Grant Elliot look on as World XI arrives in Pakistan. Image courtesy Twitter @TheRealPCB

With the ICC World XI reaching Pakistan to play three T20s in Lahore, former Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram is elated.

"It is obviously a huge honour to be with everyone today, it is fair to say that it would actually be the first time that we actually come in to play cricket for something that is bigger than the game itself. We have Sri Lanka and West Indies lined up in October and November as well", PCB Chairman Najam Sethi said.

It's a series that the whole of Pakistan has been waiting with bated breath. The series has been named Independence Cup 2017. Apart from Sarfraz, as many as 10 players out of the 16-man squad have never played an global game at home.

To a question he expressed the optimism that World XI will rise to the occasion and display quality cricket to put Pakistan which is a talented tam under pressure. "This is probably the most fortunate thing to happen to Pakistan cricket in the recent past", said Haroon Rashid. But I am glad that at least I am an worldwide player and representing South African team. The Pakistan crowds will want a competitive series between their heroes and their distinguished opposition, but the fact that they are seeing worldwide cricket in their own country will be a huge boost.

Pakistan has not hosted top-level worldwide cricket - barring five limited over matches against minnows Zimbabwe in 2015 - since the Sri Lankan team bus was attacked by terrorists in March 2009, killing eight people and injuring seven players and staff.

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