THE West Indies cricket team’s short but successful tour to Karachi for a three-match T20 series is being seen as Pakistan’s biggest step yet towards the restoration of international cricket in the country. Foreign players were unwilling to visit the country after the 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team in Lahore. However, a tour by a high-profile World XI to Lahore last September followed by the one-off T20 against Sri Lanka had rekindled hopes of a revival. And now, the staging of the thrilling back-to-back games in Karachi, including the Pakistan Super League final and the West Indies T20s, are being viewed as the most concrete measure yet towards the return of full-scale international cricket in the region. Indeed, it has been a celebratory week for Karachi which has been buzzing with excitement. For the first time in nearly a decade, the city, that is otherwise associated with violence, made headlines for hosting an international sports event after so many years. Braving high temperatures and the stringent security measures, Karachiites thronged to the National Stadium in their thousands to make the series a truly memorable one. Most of the credit for the incident-free event must go to the Pakistan Cricket Board, the law enforcers and the Sindh government for coordinating their efforts and adhering to a workable plan. In fact, in the larger scheme of things, where the focus is on peace and normality returning to the city, the lopsided results on the field are hardly worth a mention.
That said, the critics have been correct to highlight the depleted strength of the West Indies team sent to Pakistan sans its top players which has been rather disappointing for cricket fans here. Pakistan, since its debut in world cricket in 1952, has remained a front-ranking cricketing nation, and it is important that the PCB negotiate such tours on strong, equal terms befitting its status, especially in this case when the visiting players have been paid extraordinary remunerations for the assignment.