Shahid Afridi urges other teams to follow Zimbabwe's lead

Source: Published in Sports on Thursday, May 21, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Star all-rounder and T20 captain Shahid Afridi on Thursday urged other international teams to follow Zimbabwe's lead and tour Pakistan.

He said Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Shaharyar Khan should be praised for his efforts in ending the six-year drought of international cricket in the country.

“It is excellent that cricket is now back. This is a commendable effort by PCB and a massive thanks to Zimbabwe,” the T20 skipper said in an interview to a local TV channel.

Afridi hoped that bigger teams like Australia, South Africa and England will also tour Pakistan in near future. “Zimbabwe tour is just a start of a very good beginning,” he said, adding: “We will have to wait for other teams to tour Pakistan.”

Afridi said matches should be played in other cities as well. “Whole nation is dying to see international cricket in the country,” he said.

The T20 skipper was confident that his team would do well against Zimbabwe. “We can't underestimate them. We have to avail every opportunity and every player has to perform in the matches,” he said.

Afridi showed faith in the 15-member T20 squad to play two T20s against Zimbabwe. “I needed three to four players who had performed well in the Super 8 Tournament. I [also] needed a spinner in the absence of Saeed Ajmal and an all-rounder,” he said.

The star all-rounder said all players would get a proper chance, adding that the team for World T20 to be held in India next year would be finalised at least two months before the tournament.

Earlier, PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan had expressed hopes that Zimbabwe's tour of the country will be a proving ground for others and has called on their Asian rivals to lead the way.

Khan said the tour would prove Pakistan could protect touring teams, even if he did suggest they were still learning about how to attain the safest measures for visiting sides.

“There is a lot of anticipation for this series and we are hopeful it will open doors for more tours in the future,” the PCB chief told reporters on Thursday.

“More importantly, it will also allow us and the government and security agencies to practically assess what more can be done to make touring sides more secure.”

Pakistan ready for return of international cricket

With security measures so far holding up, international cricket returns to Pakistan on Friday (tomorrow) for the first time in six years.

Thousands of policemen have been busy over the last three days providing protection to the Zimbabwe team as Pakistan tries to avoid a repeat of 2009 when gunmen attacked the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore.

Only five of the Pakistan's T20 players have played in front of home fans since 2009.

Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura says his team could benefit from coach Dav Whatmore's “insight” on Pakistan team.

Meanwhile, Punjab Police has also started a search operation in Lahore.

According to official sources, police has started re-checking of hotels, guest houses and rented houses in the provincial capital, while the property dealers and house owners have also been directed to complete all necessary requirements in this regard.

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