After the attack in 2009 on Sri Lankan cricket team, Pakistan became a “no-go area” for international teams but long before this the major cricket playing nations like Australia & South Africa became circumspect in touring Pakistan when the New Zealand team was attacked back in 2002.It was quite a blow back to the cricket lovers here in Karachi as it has been hosting matches every year at the very popular National Stadium.
It was a ground that welcomed the top teams like Australia, New Zealand, England, India, Sri Lanka, West Indies & South Africa from 1980-2002. The cheers and the roars of the crowed echoed in the ground and its reminiscence can still be felt. The city that was known as the “city of light” and for its famous “hippie trail” lost everything at the hands of religion except sports but the monster of terrorism succeeded in piercing its jaws deep into international cricket.
It was 21st April 2002 when New Zealand team played its last ODI in Karachi. But since then Karachi could never host the black caps, Kangaroos, English &Protease again because of that ill-fated bomb blast attack on Kiwis during the same tour. Since then only four cricket playing nations named India, Srilanka, Bangladesh & Zimbabwe visited Pakistan till 2009. During this period Sri Lankans were the only nation who persisted with touring Pakistan regularly &tried their level best to keep international cricket alive in country until they were attacked on their way to Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore in the year 2009, putting an end to the glorious chapter of international cricket in Pakistan.
PCB and government did little to restore peace and convince the international teams to revisit Pakistan for cricket. Like its tourist destinations, the Pakistani cricket grounds were left barren not even attracting the locals to congregate matches. It was 2006 when hopes of die-hard cricket lovers in Pakistan went high, with the decision of ICC to announce Pakistan as the host nation for world cup 2011. Those hopes even died when ICC later on decided to shift the venues from Pakistan to India, Bangladesh & Srilanka due to security threats.
After that, even our countrymen lost the faith in the restoration of peace as well as cricket in Pakistan until October20, 2012. When under the captaincy of Sanath Jaysuria, top former and current cricket players from South Africa, West Indies, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan played their first World XI match in the ever-known National Stadium.
The stadium attracted flocks of cricket lovers who fervently came to see the much loved sport for continuously two days. It was a full house for both the matches as youngsters & families had come in large numbers to support their national heroes back to international arena. It was the effort of Sindh Sports Minister and the international players who did their utmost to revive cricket in Karachi and giving National Stadium its old status. We as a nation pay tribute to the international players from all the four countries with special thanks to Sanath Jaisuria who agreed to come to Pakistan with all odds. We as nation hope that these matches will prove to be a new beginning for the revival of international cricket in Pakistan. We look for a comeback of those days when cricket was much thrived into the veins of every Karachiite and Pakistani with a promise of security for the life of every citizen and visitor, be it a sportsman or a hippie on his trail for enlightment.