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As a cricketer, in a few years' time, I will be able to look back and say I played my part to bring cricket back to Pakistan. —PCB
As a cricketer, in a few years' time, I will be able to look back and say I played my part to bring cricket back to Pakistan. —PCB
The World XI is led by South African skipper Faf du Plessis and coached by former Zimbabwe batsman and ex-England coach Andy Flower.  —PCB
The World XI is led by South African skipper Faf du Plessis and coached by former Zimbabwe batsman and ex-England coach Andy Flower. —PCB

South African Test and T20 Captain Faf du Plessis, who is leading the World XI squad in the Independence Cup 2017, said that the international cricketers on his team were "playing for something bigger than the game itself".

Faf du Plessis and World XI coach Andy Flower were addressing a press conference in Lahore on Monday, following the arrival of the World XI cricket team in the early hours of the day. “You always try to find things to help you leave your mark — and this seemed like the sort of opportunity to do just that,” said du Plessis.

“As a cricketer, in a few years' time, I will be able to look back and say that I played my part in bringing cricket back to Pakistan.”

“The World XI comprises well known international players who have come to Lahore to play their part in bringing international cricket to Pakistan so that the diehard fans and enthusiasts can once again watch cricket in their own backyard,” said World XI coach Flower.

“The World XI looks forward to celebrating the return of international cricket in Pakistan,” he said, adding “I'm sure our international stars will return home with happy memories”.

Earlier, the Chairman of International Cricket Council (ICC) Task Force on Pakistan Giles Clarke congratulated the Pakistani people over the revival of cricket in the country, saying, “It is not just cricket, but much much more than that".

Clarke, along with PCB Chairman Najam Sethi, was addressing a press conference.

Chairman of ICC Task Force congratulates the Pakistani people over the revival of cricket. —PCB
Chairman of ICC Task Force congratulates the Pakistani people over the revival of cricket. —PCB

The government, the security agencies and most importantly the people of Pakistan have played a significant role in the revival of Cricket in Pakistan, said the senior ICC official.

Clarke thanked the PCB and hailed the courage of all stakeholders, he also congratulated Andy Flower — the coach of World XI — for arranging the side and talking the international players into visiting Pakistan.

Also speaking at the occasion, Sethi said he was not taking the tournament as a cricket event "but as a historic move".

The World XI squad comprising 13 players from seven top cricket-playing nations landed in Lahore amid massive security, with Pakistan hoping the tour will end years of international isolation.

Pakistan has not hosted top-level international cricket — barring five limited over matches against minnows Zimbabwe in 2015 — since the Sri Lankan team bus was attacked by terrorists in March 2009, killing eight people and injuring seven players and staff.

The World XI, which will play three Twenty20 internationals from Tuesday, arrived around 2am with air surveillance and dozens of police vans in attendance as the team was whisked to their hotel.

Both the hotel and stadium will be cordoned off with 9,000 police and paramilitary staff deployed during the next five days.

The World XI is led by South African skipper Faf du Plessis and coached by former Zimbabwe batsman and ex-England coach Andy Flower.

A fourteenth player, Samuel Badree of the West Indies, will arrive later on Monday.

Earlier on Sunday Malik Mohammad Khan, a spokesperson for the Punjab government said authorities were providing “foolproof security for the World XI with a big contingent of security officials deployed”.

Troops stand guard outside the Gaddafi stadium. —AP
Troops stand guard outside the Gaddafi stadium. —AP

Parts of the city near the stadium will be cordoned off, with shops and restaurants around the venue to be shut for the duration of the series while spectators will have to pass through multiple security checkpoints.

Since the 2009 attack Pakistan have been forced to play most of their “home” games in the United Arab Emirates — with the Pakistan Cricket Board complaining they have incurred losses of around $120 million.

But security has dramatically improved across Pakistan in the last two years, signalling hopes for the slow revival of international sport in the country.

In March, Pakistan successfully hosted the Pakistan Super League Twenty20 final in Lahore with English players Dawid Malan and Chris Jordan, West Indies' Darren Sammy and Marlon Samuels and South Africa's Morne van Wyk and Zimbabwe's Sean Ervine competing.

A worker welds a barrier at an entrance to the  Gaddafi stadium, in preparation for the World XI series in Pakistan. —AP
A worker welds a barrier at an entrance to the Gaddafi stadium, in preparation for the World XI series in Pakistan. —AP