International cricket returned to Pakistan last month as the cricket-crazy nation recently hosted Sri Lanka for three T20I matches and three ODIs. Pakistan won the ODI series 2-0 after the opening game was washed out in Karachi. Sri Lanka, however, came back strongly in the T20 series, defeating World No 1 T20I side Pakistan 3-0 in front of their home crowd.
Initially, the tour also included a Test series between two nations before it got pushed back by two months into Pakistan’s second home country the UAE. After a dismal outing in the 2019 World Cup in England, both teams were keen to make an impact in the limited-overs format. Both teams failed to qualify for the semis and their scheduled encounter at the County Ground in Bristol was called-off due to continuous rains. In spite of all the controversies surrounding Pakistan’s performance in the quadrennial event, regular captain Sarfaraz Ahmed continued as captain against Sri Lanka at home as well.
Due to security concerns in Pakistan, several top Sri Lankan players opted out of the tour. Their withdrawal came at the backdrop of the attack on the Sri Lankan team by gunmen when the island nation toured Pakistan in 2009. Sri Lanka’s limited-overs captain Dimuth Karunaratne was also among the players who dropped out. 50-overs specialist Lahiru Thirimanne was then appointed as a replacement skipper for their ODI outfit. Meanwhile, 28-year-old Dasun Shanaka was selected to lead the T20I side.
End of a very special tour.Kudos to @TheRealPCB for bringing back intl cricket to their fans.Great hospitality.Excellent security measures.Hope every other country will visit here soon.Pakistan is safe to play cricket & their fans deserve it!#PakvSL @ImranKhanPTI @OfficialSLC— Danushka Gunathilaka (@danushka_70) October 9, 2019
The tour proceeded successfully as Sri Lanka’s opening batsman Danushka Gunathilaka tweeted about his experience of playing in Pakistan after the series. In his tweet, he mentioned that Pakistan is a safe place to play cricket and other teams should also visit the country. Skipper Shanaka also thanked the crowd in Pakistan for their support and hospitality. Apart from players, even Lankan officials thanked the country and handed over souvenirs to Pakistan’s security officials.