Pakistan fans turn up in large numbers for cricket’s return

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Lahore, May 25 (IANS) Fans celebrated international cricket’s return to Pakistan after six years with the home team sweeping both the Twenty20 Internationals against Zimbabwe here.

The 2-0 series win doubled the joy for thousands of Pakistani cricket fans who turned out in large numbers at the Gaddafi Stadium here as international cricket came back to the Asian country for the first time since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus here in March 2009.

A large number of people turned out to witness their stars play on home soil on May 22 and 24. Amidst tight security, enthusiasts flocked to the stadium with posters and placards in support of Pakistan cricket, also thanking the Zimbabwean team for their support.

Fans painted their faces and bodies in national colours with some holding posters of “6 years of torture. Thanks for revival of cricket in Pakistan”. Another fan held up a poster saying: “Welcome Zimbabwe. Peace we love.”

Pakistan’s most famous fan — Chacha Cricket — was also present in the stadium. Thousands battled the 42 degree Celsius heat and stifling security checks in long queues for hours to catch a glimpse of the matches.

“It’s a great occasion and the win made it greater. With this match we have given a positive message to the world that Pakistan is a safe country,” Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi said.

Pakistani bowling legend and coach Waqar Younis said the occasion made Pakistan a proud nation.

“Playing on home soil in front of our own people gives you a different feeling. The way Lahore rose for us was simply the best. We are proud of our people and nation. I had said that people should keep some patience as they might face minor problems but I am happy everything went well,” Waqar said.

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