New Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) Chairman Najam Sethi on Monday confirmed World XI’s visit to the country in September, saying that he’ll confirm the names of players within 72 hours.
World XI’s visit, an initiative taken by International Cricket Council’s Pakistan Task Force Chairman Giles Clarke in collaboration with the PCB, is set to take place in Lahore where the team will play three T20I matches.
Sethi, while addressing the media in Lahore, said the Punjab Government has assured the PCB that the team will be provided ‘presidential level’ security for the week-long tour.
“The World XI will visit Pakistan in September,” said Sethi. “I will announce the names of the confirmed players in 72 hours.”
When asked why all matches will be played in Lahore, Sethi clarified: “No team is ready to play anywhere else other than Lahore.”
The rationale behind this decision stems from the successful organisation of 2017 Pakistan Super League final in Lahore. Zimbabwe’s tour of Pakistan in 2015 was also hosted by Lahore, which laid the basis of a security case study used to attract international teams.
However, Sethi said that he wants international cricket to return to Karachi too.
“I will meet DG Rangers, Core Commander and CM Sindh when I visit Karachi [to discuss the security arrangements if the city is to host international matches],” said Sethi. “We will make sure international cricket returns to Pakistan soon. We have started receiving positive answers from teams.”
‘SL, WI to tour Pakistan as well’
Starting with the World XI tour in September, Pakistan cricket fans, after nearly eight years, will finally have a season of international cricket on their home turf.
According to the announcement made by PCB chairman, West Indies Cricket Board on Monday confirmed to the PCB in an email that they are ready to participate in a three-T20I series in Pakistan; however, the decision still takes into account the security arrangements made for the World XI series.
“West Indies has agreed to play three T20Is in Pakistan over four days,” revealed Sethi. “They will visit the country towards the end of November.”
Sethi then discussed Sri Lanka’s agreement where they promised to play at least one of three T20Is against Pakistan in Lahore.
“Sri Lanka has said that they want to play one or two T20Is of our series in Pakistan, but we have requested them why not all three?” said Sethi.
The 69-year-old praised Sri Lanka board for taking a bold step even after the bitter experience of the 2009 attack by militants in Lahore on the Islanders’ team bus.
“It was very difficult to convince Sri Lanka,” said Sethi. “There is opposition from former cricketers and board member regarding this tour. They don’t want the team to visit Pakistan, however, their board has taken a strong stand, and said we will visit Pakistan.”
Sethi refrained from announcing any specific dates for the Sri Lanka team’s tour of Pakistan citing security reasons.
National T20 postponed
Owing to a tight schedule and NA-120 elections in Punjab, the PCB postponed the domestic National T20 event towards the start of November.
“There was a small window available so we rescheduled the tournament to the start of November,” explained Sethi.