ICC backs return of international matches in Pakistan

LAHORE, Pakistan,  (Reuters) – The International Cricket Council (ICC) has agreed to back Pakistan’s efforts to resume international cricket in their own country and said it would provide financial assistance for security needs.

Pakistan is currently hosting a World XI cricket team for three T20 games in the eastern city of Lahore, a series that is being touted as a watershed moment for those bidding to restore international cricket in the country.

ICC Chief Executive David Richardson called the matches an “important stepping stone” for Pakistan to earn the “confidence of the international sporting community”.

Pakistan has hosted only one international series since militants attacked a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in 2009, wounding six players and killing two civilians and six security officials.

“The ICC has already agreed to invest in security and improving the security capabilities for a three-year period,” Richardson said, adding that he would like to see other countries sending their teams to Pakistan.

Speaking at a press briefing yesterday ahead of the second T20 match at the Gaddafi Stadium, Richardson said the matches were an example of the “the cricket family … sticking together to help a particular member country.”

Fans have been clamouring for the return of international cricket since March after the final of the domestic T20 Pakistan Super League, featuring high-profile foreign players such as World Cup winner Darren Sammy, was held in Lahore.

Acknowledging the importance of that event, Richardson said that the current three-match series would go a long way towards convincing other countries that Pakistan could safely host their teams.

Pakistan won the series opener on Tuesday by 20 runs, spurred by a quick-fire 86 by batsman Babar Azam before holding off a star-studded World XI batting line-up led by South African captain Faf du Plessis.

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