PESHAWAR: Members of the national cricket team, including team captain Misbahul Haq and veteran Shahid Afridi, on Saturday visited children who were injured during the devastating attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, Express News reported.
Misbah said meeting with students who survived the attack — the deadliest in Pakistan’s history — had given the cricketers enormous courage ahead of next month’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
“It was a great feeling,” Misbah told AFP. “The kids gave us tremendous courage and wished the best for us in the coming World Cup.”
He added: “The best part is that these kids have rejoined the school and their spirit is an encouraging sign for the players, which is to never give up, whatever you do. And with this motivation, we will try to win the World Cup.”
Further, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has donated Rs7.5 million to the school.
The players, who were accompanied by PCB officials, arrived at the Corps Headquarters (HQ) in Peshawar and met with parents of the injured children at the Combined Military Hospital.
Players visiting the hospital include fast bowler Muhammad Irfan, Ehsan Adil, Yasir Shah, Ahmed Shahzad and Umar Akmal. Team manager Naveed Cheema was also present.
Afridi said the students had taught the players that “the one who saves is greater than those who tries to kill”.
“We are hugely motivated by these kids,” Afridi told AFP. “I asked one kid how he survived after being shot in the chest and he replied that his chest is not weak.
“We want to show the same courage in the World Cup and win the event for our nation and for our people and kids like these.”
Pakistan team manager Naveed Cheema said meeting the players had brought much-needed joy to the children, too.
“Those were touching scenes,” said Cheema. “The faces of kids were glowing at the sight of the players, and parents of those who died want us to win the World Cup for their dear ones.
The players were also scheduled to visit the Army Public School later in the day. Further, the team members may also visit the graves of those who were killed in the devastating attack.
The cricketers could be seen shaking hands with the injured children students and elders.
The school had been attacked about a month ago by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), in a tragic incident in which 150 people were killed including over 130 children.
The team flies to Auckland on January 21 for two one-day internationals against New Zealand on January 31 and February 3.
They then move to Australia and will play two warm-up games on February 9 and 11.
Their World Cup campaign begins with a high-profile game against arch-rivals and title-holders India in Adelaide on February 15.
*CORRECTION: An earlier version of the story incorrectly spelled Ehsan Adil as Ahsan Adil. The error is regretted.