Celebrations all around as Sri Lanka returns to play in Pakistan after 2009 attack

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Veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik smashed quick fired 52 as Pakistan outplayed Sri Lanka by 36 runs in the third and last T20 international to clean sweep the series 3-0 on Sunday before a charged full house at Gadaffi stadium.

The match was the fourth international since the attack, with Zimbabwe playing a five-match limited overs series in 2015 followed by the final of Pakistan Super League and a three-match Twenty20 series with the World XI comprising of players from seven countries — both this year.

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Najam Sethi dubbed the match “historic”.

Thousands of fans filled Gaddafi Stadium under intense security, as the countries’ respective national anthems were played before a capacity 23,000 crowd.

The city was adorned with pictures of the Sri Lankan cricketers as fans converged on the stadium hours before the start of the match.

Fans applauded both the teams before the start of the match and beat drums in an exhilarating atmosphere.

Sethi hoped Sri Lanka’s return will be followed by a three-match Twenty20 series with the world champions, West Indies, next month, which is due to be finalised in the next few days.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed thanked the Sri Lankan team and the crowd.

“I thank Sri Lankan team for coming to Pakistan as it was a great gesture,” said Ahmed. “It was lovely to play before home crowds and win.” Sri Lankan skipper Thisara Perera said his players were honoured.

“We want to thanks the Pakistan fans for inviting us,” said Perera. “We love you and it was an honour to lead this young side. “

Spectators cheer during the T20 cricket match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. —AFP
Spectators cheer during the T20 cricket match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. —AFP
Women cheer as they arrive to watch the T20 cricket match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. —AFP
Women cheer as they arrive to watch the T20 cricket match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. —AFP
Spectators cheer prior to the start of the T20 cricket match. —AFP
Spectators cheer prior to the start of the T20 cricket match. —AFP
Pakistani and Sri Lankan cricketers and officials pose for a photograph before the start of the match. —AFP
Pakistani and Sri Lankan cricketers and officials pose for a photograph before the start of the match. —AFP
Spectators hold Sri Lanka's national flag during the T20 cricket match. —AFP
Spectators hold Sri Lanka’s national flag during the T20 cricket match. —AFP
“I am very delighted that I played a fine knock and inspired the team to a decent total in our last T20 of the series against Sri Lanka,” said Shoaib Malik who was declared man of the match. —AFP
“I am very delighted that I played a fine knock and inspired the team to a decent total in our last T20 of the series against Sri Lanka,” said Shoaib Malik who was declared man of the match. —AFP
Players celebrate after winning the third and final T20 cricket match against Sri Lanka at Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore.—AFP
Players celebrate after winning the third and final T20 cricket match against Sri Lanka at Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore.—AFP
Pakistani players celebrate after winning the third T20 cricket match against Sri Lanka. —AFP
Pakistani players celebrate after winning the third T20 cricket match against Sri Lanka. —AFP
Pakistan's cricket team pose for photographs with the trophy after winning the third and final T20 cricket match against Sri Lanka. —AFP
Pakistan’s cricket team pose for photographs with the trophy after winning the third and final T20 cricket match against Sri Lanka. —AFP
The Twenty20 against Sri Lanka took less than four hours to play but its significance will last far longer. —AFP
The Twenty20 against Sri Lanka took less than four hours to play but its significance will last far longer. —AFP

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