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ICC lauds Pakistan for successful hosting World XI series

Spectators hold a sign during the final match of World XI cricket series in Lahore, Pakistan
Spectators hold a sign during the final match of World XI cricket series in Lahore, Pakistan

The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Saturday praised Pakistan after they successfully completed hosting World XI in a three-match Twenty20 International series in Lahore.

The series was aimed to help Pakistan revive bilateral series to be played at home after Pakistan Cricket Board failed in convincing member boards to visit the country since 2009 when the Sri Lankan team bus was attacked.

Even though Zimbabwe did break the shackles in touring Pakistan for a limited overs series in 2015, the recently concluded World XI series was seen as the first major initiative from ICC to help the member boards gain confidence in visiting the country again.

ICC Director Giles Clarke, who attended the first two games of the series said he was moved by the reception, the players got in Pakistan and congratulated the people and administrators involved in achieving the success.

“The reception the team received was quite extraordinary, and for all of us, we did our best to interact with the crowd. The reaction of the Pakistanis who were at the ground is something I have never seen in my life. They were so pleased, saying thank you, and they were so excited by the players being there.

“I felt the tour unleashed the deep and powerful emotions that exist around cricket in this country’s makeup and its society.

“It has been an enormous challenge to ask the authorities in a town as large as Lahore, as commercially important as Lahore, with such a wide variety of other activities, to allow cricket activity to take over key communication channels and travel arteries for the period we have. It is clearly a tremendous economic gesture by the Punjab government but an equally extraordinarily competent detailed planning by all the government agencies involved and the security advisors to the tour.

“I think this courageous team, its management and all the people in Pakistan who have been involved, have demonstrated that it is possible for overseas players to come to Pakistan and show their skills in Pakistan and be able to give the people of Pakistan the chance to watch their own heroes in action against the best international players.

“It has been a fantastic tournament and I am very grateful to everybody for all the hard work - by the PCB and everybody else."

ICC Chief Executive Dave Richardson, who attended the second game believes this will be a 'stepping stone' for international cricket returning to Pakistan on a full-time basis.

“Returning full-time international cricket back to Pakistan is not going to be an overnight miracle. It has to take time. The PSL final was the first step, this is the second. We have now shown that events can be staged in one city over a short period of time in a Twenty20 format. Now, the next steps have to be taken, meaning can they be rolled out in more than one city over a longer period of time. Probably the next steps would be a tour by a Full Member country as opposed to a composite team.

“The warmth, that welcomed the players and teams back, was really heartening to see. Probably the fact that there is still such warmth and support for cricket has really been the reason why Pakistan has been able to be competitive even though it is not playing matches at home.

“So, we are really very happy for the people of Pakistan and grateful that they have welcomed the World XI in the fashion that they did.”

Pakistan won the three-match series 2-1 with wins in the first and third game while Faf du Plessis led World XI side managed to win the second game in a thrilling chase.

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