Twelve cricketers belonging to Afghanistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, USA and West Indies are expected to land at Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport in the next day and a half. They make up the numbers for the International World XI squad which will take on Pakistan Star XI in two Twenty20 matches at the National Stadium Karachi this weekend. The matches have been arranged jointly by the Sindh Minister for Sports Dr Muhammad Ali Shah, with support from the local government in Karachi in a bid to revive international cricket in Pakistan.
After Bangladesh cancelled their tour earlier this year, over security fears, this will be the second attempt to bring fans back to the stadiums to watch international cricketers. While all of the names making up the International World XI may not be stars of their era, they have done enough to become recognizable among cricket aficionados. The make up of the Pakistan Stars XI, in comparison, does include some big names, including captain Shahid Afridi, former captains Younis Khan and Shoaib Malik, as well as younger members of the national team Umar Akmal, Nasir Jamshed, Asad Shafiq, Fawad Alam, Shahzaib Hasan and bowlers Umar Gul and Wahab Riaz.
The format picked by the organizers for the event is a crowd favourite and ticket prices have been kept within an affordable range to ensure a capacity crowd. If things go according to plan, we could have two thrilling (albeit meaningless on official records) T20 matches and have the crowds roaring again.
However, having a team comprising players of yesteryear face off against local stars in a off-the-record series is not exactly the same as hosting an international ICC-recognised Test team for an official series. How, then, can the return of international cricket be turned into a reality?
Should the Pakistan Cricket Board organize similar matches and series?
Can the tours of women’s, ‘A’ and Under-19 teams help the cause?
How long will it take for Pakistani fans to be able to cheer on their side against a Test nation at home grounds?
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