False alarm: Hopes of hosting Zimbabwe revived

Published: May 16, 2015
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Preparations for the arrival of Zimbabwe resumed after a temporary break. PHOTO: SHAFIQ MALIK/EXPRESS

Preparations for the arrival of Zimbabwe resumed after a temporary break. PHOTO: SHAFIQ MALIK/EXPRESS

KARACHI: 

After several twists and turns, the drama regarding the Zimbabwe tour finally seems to have come to a rest after Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) Chairman Wilson Manase called his Pakistani counterpart Shaharyar Khan to assure him that their national team will be arriving in Lahore as per the schedule.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was left sweating over the tour after Zimbabwe’s sports regulatory body had advised against the team travelling to Pakistan, deeming it unsafe in the wake of a shooting incident in Karachi that killed more than 40.

The board officials made frantic attempts to ensure that Pakistan does not have to wait any moer for the return of international cricket — suspended for six years after an armed attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009 in Lahore.

Thursday saw a dramatic chain of events as ZC first reportedly said that they had suspended the tour of Pakistan, only to minutes later issue another statement stating that a final decision had yet to be made.

“I’ve been told by ZC President Wilson that they have been cleared by their government and the team will be arriving in Lahore as per the schedule,” said Shaharyar on the development. “We’ve asked them to give us a written confirmation as well, which will arrive soon.”

Tour to go ahead as planned

Zimbabwe are expected to arrive on May 19 and will play three ODIs and two T20Is, with the first T20 taking place on May 22. The team will depart on June 1 from Lahore on the completion of the five matches.

ZC managing-director Alistair Campbell, who had accompanied the security delegation, had earlier expressed satisfaction over the security arrangements and had even stated that their team will land in Pakistan in a few days’ time to get down to ‘the real business’ of playing cricket.

Campbell had further stated that Pakistan needs to start hosting international cricket at some point and the Zimbabwe tour will be that start, and added that he hopes the team will be able to play in other cities in future tours.

Zimbabwe’s squad for the tour was then announced but reservations surfaced from their foreign office, leading to worries that the wait for international cricket may yet be prolonged.

However, Manase told the PCB that Zimbabwe wanted to come and play in Pakistan and were trying to convince their government that they will have no problem and that an agreement has already been signed. The official sought some time and told Shaharyar that they would reach the final decision on Friday.

“We were expecting a decision on Friday but Manase called me late on Thursday to inform me that they have been given permission to travel to Pakistan and that he will come with the team too,” added Shaharyar.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th,  2015.

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