Lahore (Pakistan) – Pakistan cricket chief Shaharyar Khan on Tuesday hailed the great spirit shown by fans since international cricket returned after a six-year hiatus, promising to gradually attract more teams to compete in the country.
Pakistan have a short limited over series of two Twenty20 and three one-day internationals against Zimbabwe — their first since terror attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in 2009.
Capacity crowds watched the two Twenty20 games on Friday and Sunday despite massive security, comprising 4,000 policemen, while fans had to go through five check points.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Khan said the response was great.
“The response is great and beyond expectations,” Khan told media on the sidelines of the first one-day match in Lahore
“The crowds have been magnificent. People have overcome the security hassles but no one complained and put up a disciplined show and we will definitely build on that gradually.”
Khan, a former diplomat, said the cricketing world have also responded positively.
“Zimbabwe have been appreciative that they got the best welcome. The cricketing world has appreciated our efforts and that gives us great satisfaction,” said Khan.
Khan said the sport’s governing body the International Cricket Council (ICC) had been in touch.
“Giles Clarke (former chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board) and ICC chairman Narayanaswami Srinivasan phoned me and congratulated me on the revival of cricket in Pakistan,” said Khan.
Sri Lankan interim committee chief Sidath Wettimuny will come to see the matches and we are also waiting on the response from Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Anurag Thakur’s response on an invitation to tour Pakistan, said Khan.
“We want to build on that gradually as we have more venues under consideration besides Lahore,” said Khan of the next home series.
“Karachi, Faisalabad, Multan, Mirpur and Muzaffarabad are good venues and we can have proper series with Test matches included, likely next year.”
Khan said the ICC Board meeting in Barbados next month will be informed about the progress on matches in Pakistan.
“We will show a documentary of the Zimbabwe tour in the ICC Board meeting and hopefully perceptions about Pakistan will change gradually,” said Khan.
Khan said Pakistan is inclined to play India in the United Arab Emirates, and not in India.
“No one from India has suggested us to play the December (this year) series in India. It was agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that the series will be played in UAE and that is the final situation,” said Khan.
Pakistan and India last year signed a MOU to play six series in the next eight years, four of which are to be hosted by Pakistan and two by India.
India stalled bilateral cricket with Pakistan in the wake of 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on militants based across the border (in Pakistan).