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What cricket's return means to Pakistan

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Roar Guru
5th October, 2019
8

The last Test played in Karachi way back in 2009 witnessed the two captains, Younis Khan and Mahela Jayawardene, put on a scintillating show of batting.

The massacre in Lahore a week after that became a turning point for the sport in Pakistan.

There were traces of sport returning to the nation. Zimbabwe played them in Pakistan, giving their fans a glimmer of hope.

But what the Pakistan board was looking forward to most was resuming ties with the stalwarts of world cricket. It wasn’t coming anytime soon.

Over the past ten years, Pakistan went through its own highs, but more often than not, some unparalleled lows. And after the challenges of the past decade, the recent bilateral series against Sri Lanka was a happy homecoming.

Pakistan’s cricket board pulled all the stops to make it a success and transform the nation a safe haven for the sport. But the onus also lay on the crowd to make this tour a prosperous one.

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And much to everyone’s disappointment if not surprise, the crowds turned up in smaller numbers than expected. After all, their team’s dispirited showing in the World Cup had their fans on the ropes. The shake-up of the side’s support staff gave some optimism for the future, but the refusal to blood a new captain in place of Sarfaraz Ahmed raised eyebrows.

Pakistan were determined to put on a positive show. Not that there was a choice.

The first ODI was rained out. In the second, spearheaded by Babar Azam with the willow, the hosts posted a formidable score of 305 from where the bowlers made early inroads to rattle Sri Lanka. The hosts had little trouble claiming their first win in Karachi in a decade.

Babar Azam batting for Pakistan

(Harry Trump-IDI/IDI via Getty Images)

In the third game at the same venue, Pakistan found different heroes to see them home after the tourists gave them a run for their money. By nailing the chase of 298 with authority, Sarfaraz’s men effectively announced to the crowd that cricket has returned to their country.

Amid all this, how about their Sri Lankan counterparts? Assembling a second-string squad, with a minimum of three first-choice players pulling out of the tour, the tourists can hold their heads high for forcing Pakistan to work hard for their victories.

The first step has been taken. It has panned out as a successful tour so far on all fronts.

However, it’s just the start. It could be a long way before other countries make the journey to resume tours of Pakistan.

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