Islamabad: Former Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya will lead a World XI against a Pakistan All Stars side in two Twenty20 matches in Karachi this weekend, the first major international cricket in the country in more than three years. No Test-playing side has visited Pakistan since 2009, when gunmen attacked the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore and killed six policemen and a van driver and injured players and officials.
Provincial Sports Minister Dr. Mohammad Ali Shah organised the matches, attracting players from West Indies, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan for a World XI. "We hope that this step will pave the way for other teams to tour Pakistan," Shah said on Tuesday in the southern port city of Karachi. "We also hope to send a clear message [to other countries] that our country is safe for international sports."
The minister added that around 5,000 policemen will be deployed for the security of both teams.
The World XI includes West Indies players Ricardo Powell, Steven Taylor, Jermaine Charles Lawson and Adam Sanford; South Africa's Justin Kemp, Lungile Bosman, Mthandeki Tschabalala, Andre Nel and Andre Johann Seymore; and Afghanistan's Shapoor Zadran and Mohammad Shehzad.
The Pakistan Cricket Board has allowed its centrally contracted players to compete in both matches on Saturday and Sunday, with star allrounder Shahid Afridi leading the All Stars. The PCB said in a statement on Tuesday that it had also "permitted the use of National Stadium," but all the other obligations including security, anti-corruption, marketing and broadcasting were the "direct responsibility of the organiser."
The All Stars XI also includes former captains Younis Khan and Shoaib Malik, Nasir Jamshed, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Mohammad Sami and Imran Nazir.