Karachi set to host 3 T20s against West Indies
KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan gets another chance to showcase its ability to host international cricket when West Indies starts a three-match Twenty20 series on Sunday in Karachi.
The southern port city had a successful dress rehearsal for the April 1-3 games when it hosted the Pakistan Super League final last week.
Although it was a domestic T20 final, several foreign players including former West Indies captain Darren Sammy, South Africa’s JP Duminy and Luke Ronchi of New Zealand took part and were provided with almost presidential-like security.
Amid heavy security, the West Indies team will arrive Saturday night via Dubai.
Karachi last hosted an international game in 2009 when Sri Lanka played a test match before an attack by gunmen on its team bus in Lahore shut the door on international cricket in Pakistan. Six Pakistan policemen and two civilians were killed in that attack, and six members of the Sri Lanka team were injured.
But the Pakistan Cricket Board has accelerated its efforts to win back the confidence of overseas cricket teams in the last two years.
Lahore hosted Zimbabwe in 2015, and Sri Lanka returned in 2017.
The tour of West Indies, which will play three straight Twenty20s, is seen as another step toward the revival of full-fledged international cricket in Pakistan.
“We are very excited to play at home in Karachi, especially I am very excited to play in my home city,” said Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed.
Around 6,000 security personnel will guard the area around the National Stadium, and armed guards will travel with the West Indies team from its hotel to the stadium.
“This tour is a further major step for our friends at the PCB to bring their cricket back home, and we are pleased that our players and support staff have recognized this and supported this venture,” Cricket West Indies chief executive Johnny Grave said.
“We have made it very clear to the players and support staff that had personal reservations about this tour that we fully understand and respect their position.”
Jason Mohammed will lead what looks a weak West Indies squad on paper with Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin and Samuel Badree the most experienced players. However, there’s no Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Devendra Bishoo, Carlos Brathwaite and Shai Hope.
“On paper (the) West Indies team doesn’t look strong but we have closely monitored their performances in the CPL (Caribbean Premier League) and all of them are very strong players,” Sarfraz said.
West Indies was due to tour Pakistan last November but the tour was postponed due to heavy smog in Lahore.
Top-ranked T20 team Pakistan has given a chance to younger players like Asif Ali, Hussain Talat and Shaheen Afridi, who performed well in the PSL.
“For the young guys, there is nothing like playing at home,” Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said.
“I know that they have been very excited about the opportunity and I just can’t wait to see the stadium full of green flags.”
Sarfraz looked forward to the big home crowd.
“It’s a chance for them to become a hero,” he said of his teammates. “The appreciation we will get in front of home fans, we don’t find it outside (Pakistan).”