Sri Lanka sending its cricketers to play in Pakistan for ODI and T20I series’ must be viewed by the cricket world as a reciprocation in view of the very strong friendly ties between the two sub-continent countries, and of course, Pakistan’s show of strength to Sri Lanka in 1995 when the Pakistan Cricket Board sent a team to play in friendly matches ahead of the world cup when several Western countries were unwilling.
In that vein, the upcoming series is indeed a strong bonding of the political and sporting ties between Sri Lanka and Pakistan. This is more so, with Pakistan having the former cricketing great turned politician, Imran Khan calling the shots as the country’s Prime Minister.
With Imran Khan at the helm, it has certainly served in further allaying concerns about the security of the Sri Lankan cricketers on tour. In fact, it did not take long for Sri Lanka to fall behind Pakistan and its cricket by sending its cricketers over there which will also serve as a platform for other cricket playing countries that have been boycotting playing in Pakistan since the aborted 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team that` were travelling by bus.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan cricket team’s tour to Pakistan was greeted with glee over in Pakistan. Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani hailed the tour as a boost for the country’s cricket and its prospect to host other international sides in the future, Pakistan’s Dawn Newspaper reported yesterday. The Islanders landed in Karachi on Tuesday and are set to take on the hosts in three One-day Internationals in the metropolis’ National Stadium, with the first game on Friday.
This is Sri Lanka’s second visit to Pakistan after the 2009 attack on their team bus in Lahore. The Lankans played a T20 in October 2017. Lahore will host three T20s from October 5-9 after the Karachi one-dayers. “Despite the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in 2009 they have come to Pakistan and it is a big gesture and like a fresh gust for Pakistan cricket” Mani said during the series’ logo unveiling ceremony at the Gaddafi Stadium.
“We hope soon the other international teams will also come.” Mani said PCB and and Sri Lanka Cricket share a special bond and the former played it’s part to strengthen the relationship when it did not cancel the Pakistan Under-19 team’s tour to Sri Lanka despite terrorist attacks in Colombo on the occasion of Easter this year.
“The PCB has also showed the same gesture of love earlier after Colombo was rocked by the terrorists activities as our junior team was ready for its scheduled visit to Sri Lanka and that shows both the countries have exemplary relations which will be strengthened further with this visit of the Sri Lankan team” said the PCB chief.
Mani said Pakistan had also played a very active role to help Sri Lanka to get Test status from the International Cricket Council (ICC) in the past. Mani credited the Pakistan Super League (PSL) for playing a big part in bringing back international cricket to the country while prominent efforts were being made in the last three years to convince international teams to visit Pakistan.
He said the PCB would welcome all the players who want to visit Pakistan in the future. He said in the fourth edition of the PSL, almost 35 foreign players were in Pakistan, which showed they had the trust on the security arrangements. Mani urged local fans to visit the stadiums when Pakistan and Sri Lanka take on each other in the limited-overs matches. The PCB chief hoped the series will witness full-packed stands at the National Stadium and the Gaddafi Stadium.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-