Jayasuriya hopeful of international cricket returning to Pakistan

By AFP | October 22, 2012

PhotoKARACHI — Players from the visiting International World XI Monday said overseas teams should return to tour Pakistan soon, after two Twenty20s against an all-star home side passed off successfully at the weekend.

The exhibition games were the first appearances by high-profile foreign players in Pakistan since deadly militant attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009 led to the suspension of international matches in the troubled country.

The visitors' captain Sanath Jayasuriya of Sri Lanka said international cricket should return to Pakistan.

"After these two matches I hope people will believe that Pakistan is a safe country for cricket," he told reporters on his departure.

"We had two great days with good crowds coming and I am sure that with more efforts international cricket will return to Pakistan."

Security was tight as capacity crowds of 32,000 packed into Karachi's National Stadium -- evidence, if it were needed, of the Pakistani public's desperation to see top level cricket at home.

Jayasuriya, the dashing left-hander who was instrumental in Sri Lanka's 1996 World Cup win, said he felt sad for the deprived people of Pakistan.

"It is unfortunate that the people of Pakistan are not getting international cricket on their grounds, but I am sure they will get it sooner than later," he said.

Former South African Test bowler Andre Nel said Pakistan was ready to host foreign teams again.

"I was initially hesitant on touring," said Nel, who played 36 Tests and 79 one-day internationals for South Africa until 2008.

"After these two well-organised matches I am sure Pakistan cannot be denied international cricket for long."

The Pakistan Cricket Board, which distanced itself from the matches initially, said it hoped a platform had been set for the revival of the game.

"I hope these matches, despite being private, are a good step," board chairman Zaka Ashraf told reporters on Sunday night. "We are doing our efforts and hope that we are able to convince teams to tour us."

Ashraf said his board was in talks with Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and two other boards and hoped international cricket would be revived by as soon as next year.

© AFP

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