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In exclusive remarks to PakPassion.net, Basit expressed his confidence in the arrangements for the upcoming games in Karachi and while praising the efforts of the organizers, hoped that this would be a firm step towards restoration of international cricket in Pakistan.

By Amir Husain (18th October, 2012)

On a clear March day in Lahore in the year 2009, masked gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team on their way to the Gaddafi stadium where they were involved in a Test match against Pakistan. Amongst the non human casualties of that day was the seemingly irreversible damage which was inflicted on the reputation of Pakistan as a safe venue for cricket.

A proud nation of millions of enthusiastic cricket fans was thus deprived of any International cricket. In the meantime, the nation’s cricketers have been turned into virtual nomads as they travel and play around the world, pleasing fans of different nations but are unable to play in their own land. The U.A.E has now been turned into their home away from home which for all its hospitality and warmth cannot be a substitute for the sheer thrill of playing in front of “home” crowds.

Whilst the law and order situation in Pakistan is a legitimate cause of concern for many visitors, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) under the leadership of Zaka Ashraf has made many a valiant but failed attempt in trying to restore Pakistan as a viable venue for foreign teams. In this regard, the closest the PCB chairman has been to his stated goal of hosting International teams in Pakistan was the now cancelled tour by Bangladesh in April of this year. Although, a combined universities XI team tour of Pakistan in the same month did take place without incident, raising hopes for the local populace but the fact remains that a tour by a group of amateur cricketers could never be regarded as a serious step towards assuring other International teams of their safety in Pakistan.

It is in this context that the decision by a group of international players to tour the country under the emblem of an “International XI” has been met with great acclaim by fans and observers in Pakistan. The International XI , named so due to ICCs objections to the previously announced World XI label, will be lead by the indomitable Sanath Jayasuriya and feature players such as Ricardo Powell, Jermaine Lawson and Adam Sanford from the West Indies; South Africa's Justin Kemp, Loots Bosman, Mthandeki Tschabalala, Andre Nel, Andre Seymore and Nantie Hayward; and Shapoor Zadran and Mohammad Shahzad Mohammadi of Afghanistan. The home side will be lead by the irrepressible Shahid Afridi and include names such as Younis Khan, Nasir Jamshed, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Umar Gul, Mohammad Sami, Wahab Riaz and Imran Nazir.

The nation’s largest city, like most of Pakistan, is understandably thrilled by the prospect of seeing local and international stars perform on home soil and amongst the millions who will be tuning in on the live broadcast or attending the games in person is one of Karachi’s most well known voices on cricket – the ex cricketer turned TV analyst, Basit Ali.

In exclusive remarks to PakPassion.net, Basit expressed his confidence in the arrangements for the upcoming games in Karachi and while praising the efforts of the organizers, hoped that this would be a firm step towards restoration of international cricket in Pakistan.

The sports minister of Sindh province, Dr Mohammed Ali Shah has played an instrumental role in the arrangement of the 2 T20 games which will be held at the famed National Stadium Karachi (NSK) on the 20th and 21st of October. It is widely hoped that these matches may well open the door for return of International cricket to Pakistan. Basit has great admiration for the minister and also appreciates the role of the chairman PCB, Mr. Zaka Ashraf in the arrangement of these games and creating conditions conducive for this tour to go ahead.
“I have full faith in the authorities and Dr. Shah who is the minister for sports for Sindh that they will deliver an excellent and safe environment for staging of these matches. In addition, Zaka Ashraf must also be praised for his determination and hard work for this to happen. I am convinced that they will succeed in attracting International cricket back to Pakistan”

The 2 teams will include some top stars from Pakistan and Basit is clear that the people of Pakistan will be witness to matches of the highest quality stating that “Jayasuriya is no ordinary player nor is Justin Kemp or Ricardo Powell so people should be rest assured that the competition will be a tough one and provide for some great entertainment”

As the cricket starved fans round Pakistan look forward to the 2 games over the weekend in Karachi, there really is no doubt about the treat in store for them. When the star studded lineups go head to head in Karachi, it is expected that they will do so in front of a packed house which Basit believes will be the best testament to the heartfelt popularity of this game “The people of Karachi will come to the stadium to show their appreciation for this effort by both teams and they will pack the National Stadium Karachi to prove that we love this game and that Pakistan is ready to welcome all International teams of the world” he concluded.

 

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