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Spectators cheer prior to the start of the T20 cricket match in Lahore. —AFP

Celebrations all around as Sri Lanka return to play in Pakistan after 2009 attack

Lahore was adorned with pictures of Sri Lankan cricketers as fans converged on the stadium hours before the match.
Updated Oct 30, 2017 11:58pm

Veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik smashed a quick 52 as Pakistan outplayed Sri Lanka by 36 runs in the third and last T20 international on Sunday before a charged full house at Gaddafi stadium in Lahore.

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Najam Sethi dubbed Sunday's match “historic”, saying it marked the return of international cricket to Pakistan.

Prior to the match, the countries' respective national anthems were played before a crowd of 23,000 cricket fans who applauded both the teams.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed thanked the Sri Lankan team and the crowd. “I thank the Sri Lankan team for coming to Pakistan as it was a great gesture,” said Ahmed. “It was lovely to play before the home crowd and win.” Sri Lankan skipper Thisara Perera said his players were honoured.

“We want to thank the Pakistani fans for inviting us,” said Perera. “We love you and it was an honour to lead this young side."

Spectators cheer during the T20 cricket match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. —AFP
Spectators cheer during the T20 cricket match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. —AFP

Women cheer as they arrive to watch the T20 cricket match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. —AFP
Women cheer as they arrive to watch the T20 cricket match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. —AFP

Spectators cheer prior to the start of the T20 cricket match. —AFP
Spectators cheer prior to the start of the T20 cricket match. —AFP

Pakistani and Sri Lankan cricketers and officials pose for a photograph before the start of the match. —AFP
Pakistani and Sri Lankan cricketers and officials pose for a photograph before the start of the match. —AFP

Spectators hold Sri Lanka's national flag during the T20 cricket match. —AFP
Spectators hold Sri Lanka's national flag during the T20 cricket match. —AFP

“I am very delighted that I played a fine knock and inspired the team to a decent total in our last T20 of the series against Sri Lanka,” said Shoaib Malik who was declared man of the match. —AFP
“I am very delighted that I played a fine knock and inspired the team to a decent total in our last T20 of the series against Sri Lanka,” said Shoaib Malik who was declared man of the match. —AFP

Players celebrate after winning the third and final T20 cricket match against Sri Lanka at Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore.—AFP
Players celebrate after winning the third and final T20 cricket match against Sri Lanka at Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore.—AFP

Pakistani players celebrate after winning the third T20 cricket match against Sri Lanka. —AFP
Pakistani players celebrate after winning the third T20 cricket match against Sri Lanka. —AFP

Pakistan's cricket team pose for photographs with the trophy after winning the third and final T20 cricket match against Sri Lanka. —AFP
Pakistan's cricket team pose for photographs with the trophy after winning the third and final T20 cricket match against Sri Lanka. —AFP

The Twenty20 against Sri Lanka took less than four hours to play but its significance will last far longer. —AFP
The Twenty20 against Sri Lanka took less than four hours to play but its significance will last far longer. —AFP