The headquarters of the restive North Waziristan Agency hosted a cricket match on Thursday as part of the Peace Cup 2017 in which the UK Media team XI was playing Pakistan XI.
The UK Media team XI is part of an 18-member group of journalists, lawyers, businessmen and academics aged between 21-62 which is touring Pakistan’s with the aim to improve its image as a sporting nation. Of the 18, 14 are players, one is an umpire while the rest, including two women, are the organisers.
Pakistan XI won the match with a margin of 133 runs. The host team batted first and concluded its inning on 253 runs. Shahid Afridi’s 80 runs helped Pakistan to win the match whereas Kamran Akmal and Omar Ameen both scored fifties.
A day earlier, the military promoted the event on its social media accounts to announce the match at Miranshah’s Younas Khan Stadium.
The match was held in collaboration with the Pakistan Cricket Board and Peshawar Zalmi. The match was fixed at Miranshah on the special instructions of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Javed Qamar Bajwa who dubbed it as a gift to the residents of Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (Fata).
The match was telecast live via the state-run sports channel. Players of both teams marched onto the pitch wearing turbans along with their respective kits. Army officials came onto the field to greet the foreigners playing for UK media.
Prominent players on the Pakistan team included Inzimamul Haq, Shahid Afridi, younas Khan, Kamran Akmal, Junaid Khan, Umer Gull, Mushtaq Ahmed, Riaz Afridi and Wajhat ullah Wasti.
Efforts to revive international cricket in Pakistan
The visit of the UK professionals and the fixture is a part of efforts to revive international cricket in Pakistan. Except some limited over matches, the country has not hosted international cricket since the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore was attacked by terrorists in March 2009, killing eight people and injuring seven players and staff.
Since then Pakistan have been forced to play most of their “home” games in the United Arab Emirates — with the PCB complaining they have incurred losses of around $120 million. But security has dramatically improved across Pakistan in the last two years, signalling hopes for the slow revival of international sport in the country.
The PCB as well as the government have been taking several steps to revive the game in the country. In this regard, Pakistan had hosted five limited over matches against Zimbabwe in 2015.
In March, Pakistan successfully hosted the Pakistan Super League Twenty20 final in Lahore with English players Dawid Malan and Chris Jordan, West Indies’ Darren Sammy and Marlon Samuels and South Africa’s Morne van Wyk and Zimbabwe’s Sean Ervine competing.
Earlier this month, the World XI, comprises well known international players, visited Pakistan to play Independence Cup 2017.