Pakistani nation anxiously waiting for Pak-SL Tests

ISLAMABAD, Dec 08 (APP): Revival of the five-day (Pakistan-Sri Lanka Tests) games in the country has brought a glimmer of hope to the cricket fraternity that the day was not far when Pakistan would be hosting the European teams for a full-fledged international series for putting an end to the decade-long drought of Test cricket.

Both sides would contest two Tests as part of the World Test Championship, with the first to be played at Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi from December 11 and the second to begin at National Stadium in Karachi on December 19.

The Pindi Stadium would host a test match after a gap of 15 years. The last test was played between Pakistan and India in April 2004.

The Test cricket would return to National Stadium, Karachi after a gap of 10 years as the venue last hosted Pakistan and Sri Lanka Test in February 2009.

Talking to APP, the batting legend, Javed Miandad who was brimming with joy for the revival of Tests in the country said, “The Sri Lankan team’s visit to Pakistan would show the world that Pakistan was safe for all kinds of sports activities and the cricket lovers deserve to see the games at home.”

Miandad, who represented Pakistan in Tests and ODIs between 1975 and 1996, also commended the efforts of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for bringing back the longer format game to Pakistan.

“Sports are the only medium to bring people of different nations together. Sportsmen are ambassadors of their countries and sports must not be involved with politics,” he said.

Speaking about Pakistan’s chances in the two-match Test series, Miandad, who had scored 8832 runs in 124 Tests, said playing at home and the conditions would definitely benefit the green-shirts.

Former Test Cricketer Shoaib Mohammad believed the return of the longer-format game in the country would mark a new era for Pakistan cricket. “It will be great to see the Sri Lanka team playing two tests in Pakistan.

It would prove very beneficial for Pakistan cricket and the long awaited cricket-hungry fans who are dying to witness the games at home,” he told APP on Monday.

Asian Bradman Zaheer Abbas who had two stints as captain of the national team in 1981 and 1984, also lauded the Sri Lanka team for touring Pakistan. “It is a great achievement on part of PCB and now the focus must be on bringing the world’s top teams like Australia, New Zealand, West Indies, South Africa and England to Pakistan as their one visit can help revive international cricket in the country once and for all,” he said.

“PCB must convince these sides for a tour to Pakistan if not for longer formats then for a Twenty20 or ODI series,” he said and added the T20 or ODI series must be played in all cities across the country so that the fans could enjoy the long-awaited games.

The former International Cricket Council (ICC) president, said the Sri Lankan side visit has approved that they are all time friends of Pakistan and they value the efforts of PCB for the resumption of international cricket in Pakistan.

PCB Director International Cricket, Zakir Khan, thanked Sri Lanka Cricket for sending the team for the longer version of the game, which will contribute significantly in the PCB’s efforts.

“This series is part of our cricket celebrations and we will leave no stone unturned in putting up a show which is a memorable one for the players, officials, fans and media,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan Cricket (SLC) Chief Executive Ashley de Silva was quoted as saying ,” We were comfortable we believe all cricket playing countries should host international cricket at home, and in this relation we are happy to play our part in complete resumption of international cricket in Pakistan, which not only has a proud history but has been one of our biggest supporters in our early days as a cricketing nation.

Sri Lanka Coach Rumesh Ratnayake called the previous (ODI and T20 series) tour of Pakistan “a message for the whole world”, and hoped the series would encourage other countries to visit these shores in the future.

“This tour is a message for the whole world, and especially a message for future Sri Lankans. This has gone very smoothly. Us playing here will encourage so many other countries to also to be here,” Ratnayake said.

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