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Exhibition matches to end Pakistan's cricket drought

A team led by former Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya and managed by former West Indian batsman Alvin Kallicharan arrived in Karachi this afternoon.

Sanath Jayasuriya is warmly greeted on his arrival in Karachi this afternoon.

The international XI team will play two exhibition Twenty20 matches against a Pakistan Stars XI at National Stadium in Karachi this weekend, ending a near four-year drought of international cricket in the country.

Several other players including batsman Ricardo Powell, fast bowlers Jermaine Lawson and Adam Sanford from West Indies, and Andre Nel and Nantie Hayward from South Africa landed earlier in the morning. South Africa allrounder Justin Kemp has withdrawn due to his domestic cricket commitments while two Afghanistan players – Shapoor Zadran and Mohammad Shahzad – will reach Karachi tomorrow from Kabul.

“I am happy to be part of these matches,” Jayasuriya said on his arrival. “It depends on country to country [whether teams tour Pakistan] but in my opinion Pakistan is a safe country. The incidents of Lahore [attacks on the Sri Lanka team in 2009] were not the best thing to have happened and the suspension of cricket in Pakistan is very unfortunate because the people love the game here,” he said on arrival.

Kallicharran was enthusiastic about cricket returning to Pakistan.

“I came here way back in 1972 to raise funds for flood victims and this time it’s another noble cause: promotion of cricket in Pakistan,” he said.

“I think they [other countries] will have to have a look. With the success of these matches a good message will go out. Pakistan is a part of world cricket and we are here to show that Pakistan is a place to play cricket.”

Powell, who played 109 ODIs, hoped the series would change perceptions about Pakistan and added it was about time world cricket returned to Pakistan. (Cricinfo)

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