LAHORE (NNI): Calling the World XI cricket series a historic feat for Pakistan, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairperson Najam Sethi lauded the efforts of the board as well as International Cricket Council (ICC) Task Force Chairperson Giles Clarke. “Players know this is not just a visit,” said Sethi while addressing a press conference in Lahore on Monday alongside Clarke. He appreciated how the Punjab administration and army chief lent their support for the success of the event. “Since five South Africans have come to Pakistan with World XI, now our next best try will be to bring the team to Pakistan,” said Sethi. Meanwhile, Clarke thanked the policemen and army for ensuring the safety of all. He congratulated the Pakistani people over the revival of cricket in the country. “It is not just cricket, but much, much more than that.” The government, the security agencies and most importantly the people of Pakistan have played a significant role in the revival of Cricket in Pakistan, said the senior ICC official. The World XI squad comprising 13 players from seven top cricket-playing nations landed in Lahore amid massive security, with Pakistan hoping the tour will end years of international isolation, a private television channel reported. Pakistan has not hosted top-level international cricket – barring five limited over matches against minnows Zimbabwe in 2015 – since the Sri Lankan team bus was attacked by terrorists in March 2009, killing eight people and injuring seven players and staff. The World XI, which will play three Twenty20 internationals from Tuesday, arrived around 2am with air surveillance and dozens of police vans in attendance as the team was whisked to their hotel. Both the hotel and stadium will be cordoned off with 9,000 police and paramilitary staff deployed during the next five days. The World XI is led by South African skipper Faf du Plessis and coached by former Zimbabwe batsman and former England coach Andy Flower. A fourteenth player, Samuel Badree of the West Indies, will arrive later on Monday. Earlier on Sunday, Malik Mohammad Khan, a spokesperson for the Punjab government said authorities were providing “foolproof security for the World XI with a big contingent of security officials deployed”. Parts of the city near the stadium will be cordoned off, with shops and restaurants around the venue to be shut for the duration of the series while spectators will have to pass through multiple security checkpoints. Since the 2009 attack, Pakistan have been forced to play most of their “home” games in the United Arab Emirates – with the Pakistan Cricket Board complaining they have incurred losses of around $120 million. But security has dramatically improved across Pakistan in the last two years, signalling hopes for the slow revival of international sport in the country. In March, Pakistan successfully hosted the Pakistan Super League Twenty20 final in Lahore with English players Dawid Malan and Chris Jordan, West Indies’ Darren Sammy and Marlon Samuels and South Africa’s Morne van Wyk and Zimbabwe’s Sean Ervine competing.
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