KARACHI: Pakistan will host a World XI for two Twenty20 matches, officials said on Tuesday, in hopes of moving a step closer to resuming home internationals which have been suspended for more than three years.
Foreign sides have refused to play in Pakistan since 2009, when the Sri Lankan team was attacked as they arrived for the third day of the second Test in Lahore, leaving eight people dead.
Former Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya will lead the World XI, which also includes former players from South Africa and the West Indies. They will play a Pakistan All Stars side in Karachi on Saturday and Sunday.
Mohammad Ali Shah, sports minister for Sindh province, said the matches will help restore Pakistan’s image in the world.
“We hope that this small step will pave the way for other teams to tour Pakistan and by staging these matches we hope to send a clear message that our country is safe for international sports,” Shah told a press conference.
Former West Indian batsman Alvin Kallicharan will be the manager of the World XI, said Shah.
The World XI will also include Ricardo Powell, Steven Taylor, Jermaine Charles Lawson and Adam Sanford, all from the West Indies; South Africa’s Justin Kemp, Loots Bosman, Mthandeki Tschabalala, Andre Nel, Andre Johann Seymore and Nantie Hayward; and Shapoor Zadran and Mohammad Shahzad Mohammadi of Afghanistan.
Shah said strict security would be in place.
“Around 5,000 policemen will be employed to avoid any lapse and we are sure that these arrangements will made the players at ease,” said Shah.
“All the players are excited over the prospect of visiting Pakistan.”
Pakistan All Stars will be led by current all-rounder Shahid Afridi and include Younis Khan, Nasir Jamshed, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Umar Gul, Mohammad Sami, Wahab Riaz and Imran Nazir.
Meanwhile, Pakistan named wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal to lead the side’s defence of the Hong Kong Super Sixes title later this month.
Pakistan face arch-rivals India, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands in Pool B of the eight-team tournament, with Australia, England, South Africa and Hong Kong in Pool A.
Pakistan beat England in last year’s final to secure their fifth title in the tournament, first staged in 1992.