Guarded by hundrerds of heavily armed policemen, the Gaddafi stadium welcomed international cricket after a long and excruciating gap of six years. The crowd was asked to come to the stadium hours before the game as they had to pass through numerous security checks in the extreme heat of Lahore, as the mercury hit 43. But the fans didn’t disappoint and there were long queues outside the stadium way before the game started, Lahori’s were in festive mood and the whole city was buzzing with excitement. The enthusiasm among the people was beyond all expectations; fans came from all across the country to witness the return of cricket. Outside the stadium those without tickets were willing to pay thousands to obtain a ticket but to no avail. Zimbabwe players have already expressed their gratitude at the hospitality of citizens of Lahore and have praised the arrangements made for them.
The teams arrived at the stadium in a fleet of vans carrying armed guards more than two hours before the match. Two helicopters also hovered over the stadium. Inside the stadium President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain greeted the Zimbabwe players and team officials. Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi led the president to meet every Pakistani player on the field. National anthems of both teams were played, the whole stadium sang in unison as the Pakistan national anthem was played. The whole stadium was left teary eyed due to the over pouring emotions. Cricket’s return to Pakistan was grand stand indeed and the amazing spirit shown by the people of Lahore once again proved that the nation will never bow down to the menace of terrorism. The incredible spirit and passion shown by the people of Lahore was the perfect reception to cricket’s return after the painful wait.