KARACHI: West Indies are set to play three T20Is in Karachi on April 1, 2 and 3, and former cricketers believe the return of cricket to the National Stadium of Karachi will ensure that Pakistan is finally back on the map of international cricket venues permanently.
Former world number one bowler Saeed Ajmal hailed the hosting of the matches and believes that this will not only send a positive image of Pakistan but will also help revive dwindling interest in cricket.
“It is a really good sign that so many people are interested in the matches being held in Karachi,” he said, while talking to The Express Tribune. “This will send a message to the rest of the world that Pakistan is a secure country to visit and that we can host international cricket in the country once again.”
Ajmal also praised the Karachi crowd for the way they cheered on both teams in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final. “We saw how happy the people were during the PSL final,” he said. “Even though the city’s side, the Karachi Kings, had been knocked out, they cheered on both Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi. That shows how eager they are to witness good cricket and Karachi is more than ready to host international matches once again.”
The off-spinner, who was part of the coaching team for eventual winners Islamabad, backed Pakistan to come good in the tournament considering the amount of T20 cricket they have played in the last month.
“They have been playing T20s for the past month and the quality of cricket was very high,” he said, before backing the hosts to claim a cleansweep. “They should win the series 3-0. Some players performed incredibly well in the tournament so we are hoping that they will put on a good show for us.”
‘West Indies should announce team’
Former chief selector Sallahuddin Sallu believes that the West Indian board should be announcing the team by now.
“The West Indian team will be reaching Karachi on Saturday and playing on Sunday,” he said. “There isn’t much time left so they should announce the team now. People are saying that West Indies won’t be sending their key players for the series but I hope to see at least a few big names so that the matches attract crowds and the games are interesting.”
Sallu, like Ajmal, also believes the Pakistani team is capable of whitewashing the visitors, especially if they send their second string side for the games. “They may send some B teams players so Pakistan will have the edge over them and they can dominate them from start to finish.”