After successful PSL final, ICC World XI to visit Lahore in September

Pakistani spectators hold placards prior to the start of the PSL final in Lahore on Sunday.—AFP
Shukriya Pakistan

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is planning to send a World XI side to Pakistan in late September for a four-match Twenty20 series in Lahore, English daily The Guardian reported Monday.

The series will look to build on the successful staging of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final in the city on Sunday.

“The four-match series at the Gaddafi Stadium – to be called The Independence Cup to mark the 70th anniversary of partition – is intended to continue the reintroduction of top-level cricket to the country after a near eight-year hiatus,” the report said.

Pakistan has only hosted one international series since militants attacked a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in 2009. Six players were hurt while two civilians and six security officials were killed in that attack.

A tour by Zimbabwe’s cricket team in 2015 was almost disrupted when a suicide bomber killed two security officials near a stadium.

Pakistan have played all ‘home’ matches at neutral venues during the period.

It is yet to be decided which players will feature in the World XI line-up. Six overseas players – including Kevin Pietersen, Luke Wright and Tymal Mills – withdrew from Sunday’s PSL final after Lahore was confirmed as it’s venue amid security fears.

England’s Chris Jordan and the Middlesex batsman Dawid Malan, along with the former West Indies captain Darren Sammy, were among the eight who travelled amid tight security.

Giles Clarke, the president of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), heads the ICC’s Pakistan Task Force that has been pondering over ways to end a drought of international cricket and stated the PSL final, while not simply a test run for the World XI series in itself, has shown cricket can be staged in Lahore.

“The desire is to give the cricket-starved Pakistani supporters the chance to see some of the world’s finest players in live action,” Clarke said.

“The world of cricket needs to help Pakistan, who cannot continue to play their home fixtures overseas. The youth need inspiring, and the national teams need far more cricket played in familiar terrain. Furthermore, the terrorists cannot win and cricket must not give up on Pakistan.”

The World XI series overseas team will assemble in Dubai on 17 September, before flying to Lahore for four matches on the 22nd, 23rd, 28th and 29th, and follow a similar security plan to the PSL final, the rehearsals for which were overseen by an ICC delegation who included the ECB’s security director, Reg Dickason.

Malan, speaking before playing Sunday’s final, said he made himself available after being assured about the reliable security plans and following guarantees over player and spectator safety.

“As soon as they brought out how tough it would be to get to the players, I almost felt it was my duty to come and represent the team and do the right thing by them,” he said.

“Despite all the concerns that there have been in Pakistan, there has been an initiative to try to bring top-class cricket back to the country.”