Rebirth is often led by icons. We all know that two years ago, Lahore’s iconic Gaddafi Stadium dared to host Zimbabwe for a short limited-overs series in certain corridors and it was considered to be a move bordering on boldness.
The motive to host an international team was to split to ensure Pakistan’s qualification for the ICC Champions Trophy, 2017 and to send a signal across to the world that the country had finally moved on from the tragic events of 2009, and was ready to host international teams. However, the objective could be achieved only in parts.
The bomb blast outside the stadium killed two people and the incident left Pakistan’s hopes to qualify for the Champions Trophy in depression. The tournament Pakistan was desperate to qualify for is done and dusted with the trophy gracing the PCB’s cabinet. And Lahore is ready again, this time with a clear cut agenda.
The series is named ‘Independence Cup’ which will see the hosts take on the World XI in 3 T20Is starting on September 12, 2017.
These matches are as much about regaining the faith of the world as it is about guaranteeing a show that satisfies a thirst that has now lasted for more than eight years. While it’s easy to wander and discuss the occasion, and the impact of some of the prominent names traveling to Pakistan, there is cricket to be played and players will want to remain focused on that.
Ahead of the first match against Pakistan, World XI coach Andy Flower addressed a few media questions in the press conference including the reason behind Indian players’ absence from the All-star squad. This series is gaining a lot of attention from all across the world because it is the first high-profile cricket series featuring a number of International stars ever since the 2009 attack on Sri Lankan team bus.
“It’s not every day you get an opportunity to play in something that is much more than just about yourself and your own team or your own country,” said World XI skipper Faf du Plessis said. World XI coach Andy Flower said he and his team were “privileged” to be there.
“We, as the World XI, would also like to offer our sympathy and condolences to all those who have lost their loved ones in terrorist acts in Pakistan. These cricketers are here to play their part in the safe and steady return of international cricket in Pakistan so that the enthusiastic and diehard fans and followers of Pakistan cricket can once again start watching their stars in their own backyard,” he added.
When asked about why no Indian players could be a part of the team, Flower cited two primary reasons as busy schedule and political tensions. “Given the level of political involvement that would be necessary to get Indian players over here and play, we thought it was simplest to select from the other major test nations,” said Flower.
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Come September 12, redemption beckons as international cricket will finally find a way to the country through the same window.