Misbah hopes England series ushers in tests in Pakistan

Improved security in recent years has brightened chances for a home test series seven years since a terrorist attack scared away international cricket from Pakistan

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Pakistan captain hopes to see international test series returning to Pakistan

Ramadan, the month in which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, used to be the time when young men would play night-long cricket tournaments throughout the narrow streets and lanes of Karachi.

The intensity of these 'night matches', played with a tennis ball wrapped around in adhesive tape, would be particularly strong whenever a big home series was in sight.

All of that changed on March 3, 2009, when the Sri Lankan cricket team were attacked by heavily armed terrorists in the city of Lahore right before an international match.

No one from the Sri Lankan team was killed, but seven Pakistanis, mostly policemen, lost their lives in the ensuing gun battle.

The incident scared away international cricket from Pakistan, which has since then struggled to organise a home test series.

Now Pakistan cricket captain Misbah-ul Haq hopes the upcoming test series in England will help spur the return of international cricket to the South Asian nation after a seven-year absence.

Improved security in Pakistan in recent years has prompted calls for international teams to return, but test playing nations have so far refused to tour a country where militants still pose a threat.

Misbah told Reuters he hoped the four-test series in England "would help revive cricket series in Pakistan".

Since 2009, Pakistan's national team has been hosting foreign teams in the United Arab Emirates.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron also sent a good luck message to Pakistan's team, saying: "I hope that one day in the not too distant future I will be able to wish the England cricket team a successful tour of Pakistan."

The last time Pakistan played test matches in England was in 2012.

The 42-year-old Misbah said he expected an "exciting" tour after such a long gap.

"It is a big tour for Pakistan," Misbah said late on Thursday during a send-off dinner for the Pakistani team hosted by Britain's High Commissioner to Pakistan, Thomas Drew.

Pakistan's formidable pace attack, spearheaded by left-armers Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz, will face a resurgent and youthful England team captained by Alastair Cook, who last month became the first England cricketer to reach 10,000 test runs.

The coming test series will see the return of Amir to test cricket after serving a five-year ban following a spot-fixing scandal in England.

It will also be the first test series for leg-spinner Yasir Shah since he served a three-month suspension for a doping violation.

Shaharyar Khan, chairman of Pakistan's cricket board, said he was confident Misbah's squad would hold its own against England and urged them to show their worth.

"I would say, play hard, giving no quarter to England for under Alastair Cook they are too good an outfit to not make you regret it," he said.

Pakistan will play four tests, five one-dayers and a Twenty20 International in England between July 14 and Sept. 7.

TRTWorld, Reuters