South African ace AB de Villiers' decision to travel to Pakistan for the home-leg of the Pakistan Super League 2019 has earned him plaudits from his former Proteas teammates and others.
De Villiers, the top pick of last year's draft, on Monday announced that he will be visiting Pakistan in March as part of the Lahore Qalandars roster to play PSL matches at the Gaddafi Stadium.
The hard-hitting African's decision has delighted his erstwhile national teammate and PSL 2019 champion JP Duminy, who represented Islamabad United last year but will miss the tournament's next edition due to an injury.
“I am delighted that AB has decided to play Lahore Qalandars’ back-to-back matches at the Gaddafi Stadium on 9 and 10 March. I am sure when he takes the field, he will be amazed to see the electric atmosphere, passion and excitement in the crowds,” Duminy is quoted as saying by PSL-T20.com.
“The March visit will also allow AB to sense the status and respect he commands in this part of the world, as well as the impact he has made on Pakistan cricket. These people love cricket and have tremendous respect for high-performing cricketers like AB.
“The HBL PSL is a tournament which is growing fast, and with its successful staging in Pakistan, prospects of international cricket returning to the country have also brightened.
“I am sure when AB will look back at his glittering and marvellous career, he will say with pride and satisfaction that he also played a part in the revival of international cricket in Pakistan.”
Fans will line-up in huge numbers to see AB play: Sammy
West Indies star and Peshawar Zalmi captain Darren Sammy, arguably the most popular of PSL's foreign imports, recalled his experience of playing in Pakistan for De Villiers' benefit.
“AB has entertained the world through his exploits," he said. "I am glad that he has decided to show his skills in Lahore, which I am sure will be hugely appreciated by the courteous and supportive Pakistan cricket fans.
“De Villiers is a champion cricketer and I am excited for the players who will get to experience playing in Lahore with him and for the thousands of crazy Pakistan cricket fans who, I am sure, will line-up in huge numbers to see AB play.
“I played in Lahore and Karachi in 2017 and 2018 and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The excitement and enthusiasm I saw in Lahore and Karachi was second to none and it just drives home the fact that this game is what it is because of these lovely fans.
“Sadly, I will not get a chance to play against AB in Lahore but I will be watching the match on the television and I am sure we will get to see some great cricket.”
AB playing means a lot to Pakistan fans: Jordan
England fast bowler Chris Jordan, who will again represent Peshawar Zalmi, also lauded De Villiers' decision, saying: “I am glad AB de Villiers was able to make this decision of touring Pakistan.
“The love and appreciation that we received when we played in Lahore and Karachi was beyond amazing. Pakistani fans just love their cricket and to be able to experience that is something I cherish till date and look forward to this year as well. I am sure AB will have a very similar experience.
“When you play in Pakistan, it just puts into perspective what an entire generation of their fans has missed out on and, seeing how the fans are reacting to this news, clearly it means a lot to them that AB will be playing in front of them. AB de Villiers is a great addition to this group of international cricketers who want to see international cricket return to Pakistan.”
De Villiers’ Lahore Qalandars will be in action on the opening day of PSL 2019 when they take on reigning champions Islamabad United in Dubai. The PSL 2019 starts on Feb 14 and ends in Karachi on March 17.
The 2019 edition of the PCB's flagship product will see eight of its matches played in Pakistan – three in Lahore and five in Karachi.