Pakistan-Zimbabwe square off in Lahore

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LAHORE — Pakistan and Zimbabwe play their first T20 two-match series in Pakistan today at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, with international cricket’s revival in the country six years after the attack on Sri Lankan team.

The match will start at 7:30am, according to Pakistan Standard Time, sources stated.

Both teams practised at Gaddafi Stadium under floodlights amid strict security measurements. Pakistan’s coach Waqar Younis is hopeful of a better performance from the team in the series against Zimbabwe.

“We are hoping for an interesting competition and the team is ready to give a tough time to Zimbabwe,” Younis added.
Pakistan focused on batting practise on the second day of training, authorities reported. Zimbabwe coach Dav Whatmore said he was aware of weaknesses in Pakistan’s cricket team.

“We are ready to take advantage and exploit flaws of Pakistan team,” Whatmore said.

Pakistan will be strengthened with the return of seasoned all-rounder Shoaib Malik and pacer Muhammad Sami in the squad, sources added.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan is optimistic that once Zimbabwe completes the tour of Pakistan successfully, it will open the doors for more Test teams to visit the country.

Zimbabwe has become the first Test side to tour Pakistan in six years, brings back international cricket to the country.
“There is a lot of anticipation for this series as we are hopeful it will open doors for more tours in the future,” the PCB chief said.

“More importantly it will allow us and the government and security agencies to practically assess what can be done to make touring sides more secure,” he added.

Khan said Pakistan’s aim was to host bigger teams in the future and the PCB was looking for more support from the Asian continent.

“India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh all need to give us more support to help us bring back regular international cricket to Pakistan,” he added.

Khan was optimistic the series of two T20 matches and three ODIs would be well received by the fans who would come out in big numbers to watch the matches. He said stringent security measures were necessary to make the teams feel safe and fans might have to put up with some inconvenience.

“Zimbabwe has given us a lot of support by undertaking this tour despite pressure on them so we also urge the public to cheer the team along with our team as well,” he added.

Khan said he was delighted to see that the series would allow several members of the Pakistan team, including Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal, Azhar Ali and others to play for the first time in front of their home crowds.

“I wish to thank the Zimbabwe Cricket officials for supporting us at this time and we are taking all possible measures to provide them the best security cover,” Khan said.

A PCB official said as part of extensive security measures, all roads around the stadium would be closed and shops and restaurants had been told to shut down for the duration of the series.

“The law enforcement agencies are using jammers and fans will have to pass through three layers of security including metal detectors and that is why we have advised them to come for the match three hours before its start,” the official said.
— Pakistan Today

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