KARACHI: Cricketers and fans alike rejoiced as Pakistan hosted its first international against a Test-playing nation for eight years, with some even going as far as to call it as significant as a World Cup title.
Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt, who featured in the infamous Test that saw the Sri Lankan bus attacked in 2009, was all smiles as the same Sri Lanka returns to his native Lahore.
“It’s a great feeling to watch the same team come here and give fans of cricket in Pakistan something to cheer about,” Salman told The Express Tribune. “I still remember how traumatised both teams were. It was sad to see ambassadors of the country attacked in such a manner.”
The left-hander hopes sport can remain above such events in the future. “Cricketers bring nations closer; regardless of which country he plays for, he spreads goodwill throughout the country,” he said. “The credit for all this goes to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) as well as board chairman Najam Sethi.”
Hopefully West Indies will visit next: Iqbal
Salman’s teammate in that match, Faisal Iqbal, also expressed his happiness at seeing Sri Lanka return.
“I would like to thank the Sri Lankan cricket board for trusting us and send their team back here again to revive international cricket,” he said. “The fans wanted to witness international cricket here in Pakistan; this will help attract more kids towards cricket and in turn help the national team.”
The Gaddafi Stadium has witnesses a pleasant flurry of activity recently, with the PSL final and three World XI matches having taken place at the historical stadium in the last six months.
“I moved to Lahore at the beginning of the year and was able to witness all four matches held at the Gaddafi Stadium,” added Iqbal. “This will be my fifth match here so I feel really lucky. The feel and experience of an international match is unreal. Hopefully, West Indies will be coming here soon as well and they too can relay back to the world what great hosts Pakistan are.”