Afghanistan, Hong Kong to help Pakistan revival
Pakistan has not hosted any international cricket since militants attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March 2009 © AFP
Cricket teams from Afghanistan and Hong Kong are to appear in a club-level event in Pakistan, in a tentative step towards reviving the sport in the violence-hit country, an official said Wednesday.
Pakistan has not hosted any international cricket since Islamist militants attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March 2009.
The attacks killed eight people, and wounded seven Sri Lankan players and their assistant coach, effectively ending any chance of Pakistan staging international cricket in the foreseeable future.
Since then Pakistan have played their home series at neutral venues such as England and the United Arab Emirates. Last week they completed a two-Test series against Australia in England.
Mohammad Ali Shah, the sports minister of southern Sindh province, told AFP that Afghanistan and Hong Kong had agreed to send their teams for a tournament to mark the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
"It may be a small effort to revive international cricket in Pakistan, but I am happy to announce that Afghanistan and Hong Kong are sending their teams and their participation will encourage other teams to come to Pakistan," he said.
The Afghan team will include nine players from the squad which competed in the third edition of the World Twenty20 held in the West Indies in April and May -- Afghanistan?s first appearance at a top-level international tournament.
The 16-team Twenty20 tournament will be held here from August 12 to September 6, with a total 10 million rupees (117,000 dollars) prize money on offer.
Tournaments in Ramadan attract large crowds in Pakistan, where matches are mostly held in the evening under floodlights after the breaking of the fast.
Shah said security for the teams would be tight.
"We are devising a strict security plan and there will be foolproof security for the teams," said Shah.
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