The cricket chiefs of Pakistan are hopeful to host a full series of cricket by the year 2020 followed by a successful tour by West Indies which led them to hope for international revival.
The three-match series staged in Karachi, the port city which was once wracked by the military, against the World T20 champions. The series became eventful with the wave of optimism and crazy fans express their gratitude towards the West Indies for the visit, braving heavy security, which finished Tuesday.
Karachi also hosted the final of the well-known Pakistan Super League last month. It was the biggest event in Karachi since 2009 when Sri Lankan team was attacked in Lahore and international cricket was stopped in the country.
Pakistan hosted its international fixtures as it was forced in the United Arab Emirates. Over the past few years, security has been improving dramatically and Pakistan Cricket Board has been taking major steps to recover them back, according to Najam Sethi, PCB Chairman.
He said, “They have positive results. We are going to host more matches in PSL next year and almost all of the top international players from the top nations by that time would have played in Pakistan. We are going to convince their boards to host full series for national teams in Pakistan by 2020.”
After so many attempts, his confidence is rising. Sri Lanka agreed to come again in 2011 but an attack on the naval base of Karachi delayed that hope. Then, the PCB convinced Ireland to visit in 2014 when militants attacked Karachi airport and they cancelled their trip.
Due to unspecified security reasons, Bangladesh also cancelled their tours two times, though they were agreed in 2012. In 2015, minnows Zimbabwe returned as the first international team and the Pakistani national anthem played at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
With around 30000 military and police personnel was put on guard for unbreakable security as fans braved security checkpoints and heat to attend the first international game which was played after six long years of wait.
Pakistan to bring cricket home
It may not be a success for everyone. Imran Khan, former captain turned politician in Pakistan grumbled, “What kind of peaceful message we are going to send abroad by closing down roads and shops to arrange the match.”
But under a military crackdown, security has kept on improving and confidence level has been growing, despite constant attacks and strict warnings from critics that the country still needs to get to the root cause of radicalism.
Pakistan hosted the PSL final in Lahore in 2017. However, some of the leading foreign players like Australia’s Shane Watson, England’s Kevin Pietersen and South Africa’s Rilee Rossouw chose to stay away.
But West Indian skipper Darren Sammy, who won World T20 two times, was one of those who came and won over. Then a World XI side visited and emotional comeback of Sri Lankan team was witnessed last year in October. Pakistanis also turned out in thousands to welcome them with open arms.