Emotional Malik hails return of Test cricket in Pakistan

Former and current players alike are elated at Pakistan’s return to the Test map

Emotional Malik hails return of Test cricket in Pakistan PHOTO: AFP

When the first ball is bowled at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi, on Wednesday, Decmeber 11, it will mark the return of Test cricket in the country after a gap of over ten years.

While the whole nation is waiting for the momentous occasion, former and current players alike are elated at Pakistan’s return to the Test map and have expressed their joy.

Veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik, who featured in the last completed Test in Pakistan in March 2009, said: “Test cricket coming back to Pakistan is quite an emotional moment for me. When I retired from red-ball cricket, I knew I was letting go, at a certain level, the essence of cricket. I knew Test cricket will return to Pakistan Inshallah but now that it’s here, I’m feeling very emotional.

“I wish I was there in person to witness this but also see our stadiums filled with fans and enjoy a long form of cricket in this era of fast life. I must thank the Sri Lankan team and the Sri Lankan Board for taking this step and playing an instrumental role in bringing international cricket back to our country and to our people. We will never forget, may that time never come, but Inshallah you will find us hand in hand with Sri Lanka and their people in times of need,” he added.

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Former fast-bowler Umar Gul, who played alongside Shoaib Malik in the Test remembered for Younis Khan’s triple-century in Karachi in 2009, said: “I am extremely excited to see Test cricket returning to Pakistan. I welcome the Sri Lankan team in Pakistan. I want to thank them for their help in the revival of Test cricket in our beloved country."

Former wicketkeeper-batsman Rashid Latif, who played three Tests against Sri Lanka in 1994 and 2002, said: “I was not born when Pakistan played their first-ever Test at home, but I have no doubts the fans and followers of that era must have felt the same as I am feeling today. It is a great feeling. Ten years is a long wait and it is about to end, I can’t wait for the first ball to be bowled."

Former captain Moin Khan, who captained Pakistan in the March 2000 Test against Sri Lanka in Karachi which Pakistan won by 222 runs, said: “We all fell in love with this game after watching the greats of ours times before our own eyes. Lot of us used to miss schools, colleges or universities to watch Test cricket and catch a glimpse of stars like Imran Khan, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram and so many others."

“Though I don’t condone bunking schools now, but that culture will be back when younger kids and teenagers will fill in the stands to watch top-class players like Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq and Yasir Shah," he added.

Former captain Shahid Afridi, who played a Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo in March 2006, said: “I would like to thank the Sri Lanka cricket board for sending their team for the Test series, and I also want to thank the PCB for their efforts in ensuring the series takes place in Pakistan."

Legendary former batsman Mohammad Yousuf, who featured in seven home Tests against Sri Lanka said: “It is indeed a great occasion, Pakistan is a sporting nation and we love cricket. Sri Lanka team coming to Pakistan for Test matches is a big achievement and fantastic news for cricket fans who can see their heroes play in front of them."