Are you bloody pumped up? Are you getting butterflies in the stomach? Are you anxious like a hell? Something giving you the goose bumps every time you think about that? Experiencing insomnia? Sorry, no physician has the solution for it. Oh, but wait no worries this is the situation of every other Pakistani cricket fan & why shouldn’t be because cricket is coming back home.
The World XI full of current & former stars is coming to Pakistan in mid September to play the series of three T20Is on 12th, 13th & 15th of September. The three match series named as independence cup. There is a representation of seven test playing nations, including five South Africans, two Australians, two West Indians one each from Bangladesh, Newzeland, Srilanka & England. After the hiatus of nine years, this will be the most auspicious occasion for Pakistan cricket, followed by Srianka & West Indies tour to Pakistan for T20Is in the next two months subject to security clearance & successful World XI tour of Pakistan. The Gaddafi stadium Lahore will be once again buzzing & echoing with the chants of Pakistan Zindabad. Let that sink in.
March 3rd, 2009 a day to forget for Pakistan, but that can never be forgotten took away the most adored sport in the country. A group of militants attacked the Srilankan team bus when they were arriving at Gaddafi stadium on the morning of the third day of the second test against Pakistan. Many got wounded, including the visiting team players. After that incident the possibility of revival of cricket seemed impossible. Despite the unprecedented efforts of Pakistan cricket board international teams denied travelling Pakistan on security concerns. Since then Pakistan has made UAE their home & they played their all home series in adopted home. Pakistan has suffered a lot during this period of isolation. PCB never held back in taking fundamental steps. They invited several international, domestic, university, army & academy teams. During the span of nine years of deprivation of home cricket, the only notable team that agreed to tour Pakistan were Zimbabwe in May 2015. They played the series of 2 T20ls & 3 ODIs in Lahore at Gaddafi stadium from 19th to 31st May 2015. Punjab government provided fool proof security to the Zimbabwe Team. But in that particular time ICC didn’t back Pakistan fully in reinstating international cricket. It was all PCB efforts. International cricket council didn’t send their match officials & allow Pakistan to appoint a local match referee & umpires for the series. FICA (Federation of International Cricketers Association) had reservations regarding this tour, but somehow, PCB still managed a successful tour without any security lapse. It was a huge success when it comes to public interest. GSL witnessed jam packed crowd in all 5 matches.
Anyhow, it impressed the cricketing world, but not enough for other international teams to come & play there. PCB never gave up on their efforts. They announced in the draft of the second edition of the PSL (Pakistan Super League) in September 2016 that they decided to take the final of this edition to Lahore. It was hugely appreciated by the cricket fraternities.
Before the final there were several attacks in Lahore that made many players to pull out of the final. It dented the PCB’s hard work massively, but they were firm on their decision & decided not to shift the final to Dubai despite the worst possible security situation in the Lahore city. Cricket fans were jubilant but some people got quite uncertain, as if it would be a right decision to still organise the final in Lahore in a current scenario. Peshawar Zalmi were the team that managed to bring all their foreign players. Quetta Gladiators in spite of successful compaign in the PSL, were unfortunate & their all foreign players withdrew before the big final. PCB setup a mini draft before the final, but Quetta was unfortunate to get the noticeable names on the board. On 5th, March 2017 PCB finally staged a successful final of PSL at Gaddafi stadium & showed the world that they are capable to host international cricket at home.
After the success of the PSL final in Pakistan, PCB started to get some attention from the international cricket council. ICC task force head, Giles Clark visited Pakistan & met PCB officials about the security, whether the country is ready to host the international cricket. He was quite satisfied with the security & paved the way to send World XI to Pakistan in September.
The team that was not being able to play cricket at home accomplished two big achievements in last two years. They became number one test side in the World in 2016 & recently crowned as the ICC champions trophy winner. ICC has realized a successful Pakistan team is a need of world cricket & it’s not possible without cricket at their home. After winning champions trophy ICC has sped up the efforts to bring international cricket back to Pakistan. They approved the World XI tour to Pakistan & appointed former Zimbabwe batsman & former English coach Andy Flower to contact different players & get them on the board. This time FICA also approved this tour & didn’t show any concerns & supported the cause.
The World XI is comprised some of big names including South African captain Faf duplesis, star batsman Hashim Amla (SA), Imran Tahir (SA), Morne Morkel (SA), David Miller (SA), George Bailey (AUS), Ben Cutting (AUS), Tamim Iqbal (BAN), Thisara Perera (SL), Grant Elliot (NZ), Darren Sammy (WI), Samuel Badree (WI), Paul Collingwood (ENG) & coached by Andy Flower. All these stars are coming on their will & delighted to help bringing international cricket back to Pakistan. All the players will be rewarded with the substantial amount up to 85k pounds each for the tour. PCB spending almost 35 million dollars on hosting the World XI.
No wonder this is going to be the monumental occasion for Pakistan cricket. It’s more than a game. It’s above the contest. It won’t be a cricket only. It’s not Pakistan vs rest of the World. It’s something else. Something very gigantic that we can’t even visualize. The next few days surely that much special which Pakistan cricket fans would never ever experienced before. Envision it when the flood lights gleam through the Gaddafi stadium pitch. Think about the first spectator who put his foot on the floor of the GSL. Just imagine when international players waving the crowd. Feel the fans when they witness their team on the home soil & for the first time in action after winning ICC champions trophy. This will be no lesser than a festivity. Something enormous. Something Supreme. Something crucial. Something very unusual. A matter that can only be understood by a Pakistani fan.