Pakistan skipper grateful as West Indies fly in for three T20s

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KARACHI,  APRIL 01: Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed thanked the West Indies for touring the country, as the Caribbean side arrived in Karachi on Saturday in the latest step towards the resumption of top-level cricket in the South Asian nation.

The first of three T20s will be played in Karachi starting on Sunday.

The West Indies will become only the third international team to play a bilateral series on Pakistani soil since a militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009.

The 13-member team and staff arrived late on Saturday in two groups and were ushered into a bullet proof bus to their hotel.

Some 1,000 policemen and paramilitary staff were deployed along their route to guard the team, which will fly out soon after the third match on Tuesday night.

International cricketers stopped playing in Pakistan after the 2009 assault, citing safety concerns, and the national team has had to play its home matches in the United Arab Emirates since.

There has been a trickle of internationals and high-profile matches in recent years, however, with an improvement in the security situation.

“We should thank the West Indies cricket board and their team for the tour,” Pakistan skipper Ahmed said on Saturday.

“I hope it will be a successful tour and when they go back they will tell players from other countries to come to Pakistan.”

Zimbabwe travelled to Lahore for five limited-overs matches in 2015 — the first since the 2009 attack.

That was followed by the final of the Pakistan Super League T20 tournament last year — also in Lahore — which featured several international players, including former West Indies captain Darren Sammy.

Soon after, there was a series against a World XI and a match against Sri Lanka – all T20s in Lahore.

The West Indies will play three T20s in as many days starting on Sunday at the National Stadium in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city. This is the Caribbean side’s first tour of the country since 2006.

The venue is hosting international cricket for the first time in nine years. The PSL 2018 final was played at the National Stadium last Sunday, packed with 33,000 fans.

Ahmed was especially pleased with the return of cricket to his home city.

“I am also very excited as I last played an international game here in 2008 against India,” he said.

“The credit goes to the whole nation and I hope they will see very good cricket.”

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