Pakistan News

Zimbabweans shrug off security fears, gear up for competitive cricket

Zimbabweans shrug off security fears, gear up for competitive cricket

LAHORE: The fog has cleared as the Zimbabwe squad finally landed here on Tuesday morning to play two Twenty20s and three ODIs, and with it Pakistan has come out of a six-year- long isolation from international cricket.

The high-stake series begins with the first T20 match on Friday.

Having reached Lahore, the squad rested at the hotel and left for the Gaddafi Stadium, the venue of all the five matches, in the afternoon for practice amid tight security.

Soon after reaching the stadium, head of the Zimbabwe delegation Ozias Bvute along with captain Elton Chigumbura addressed a crowded press conference.

“We held a team meeting early in the morning wherein we noted the tremendous efforts put in by the government to ensure our safety. We are grateful to you for getting all this done,” Bvute maintained.

“Though security in Pakistan is a major cause of concern but I am sure we will have a very good experience here and will go back after enjoying good cricket. I also hope the stadium will be packed with spectators,” he said.

“I know that the people of Pakistan love cricket and it’s heartening that we are somewhat bringing joy to them,” said the head of the Zimbabwe delegation, adding that youngsters here would now see their heroes play in front of them after many years.”

Zimbabwe have become the first Test-playing nation to tour Pakistan since 2009 when a visiting Sri Lankan team were attacked in Lahore by terrorists which ended up in a six-year long isolation of Pakistan from international cricket, for Test-playing countries had been reluctant to visit the country mainly for security reasons.

Asked if the government was behind Zimbabwean cricketers’ decision to visit Pakistan, Bvute clarified that the Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) was the final authority in this regard and when the ZC took the decision, players were supportive of it.

He further said that the Sports and Recreation Commission in Zimbabwe dealt with all such issues and it referred the issues of Pakistan tour to the ZC to take any decision.

“We obviously looked into the pros and the cons of what we wanted to achieve from this tour. And our main aim was to visit Pakistan and play against our brothers. Therefore, despite various concerns and opinions we are here only to prove that we want to play cricket,” said the delegation chief while stating that the Zimbabweans are earnestly looking forward to an exciting two-week of playing cricket in Pakistan.

When asked if it was a brave decision to tour Pakistan, Bvute argued: “Sometimes you have to wait for the pros and cons of any decision.

“For many years the Zimbabwe cricket suffered from the same isolation Pakistan was hitherto faced with and the same weapon of security was used against us for a long time.”

About the security situation, the Zimbabwe delegation chief further said: “In fact, no one can guarantee your security anywhere in the world. Anything can happen at any safest place of the world. Certainly, the risk being taken varies from country to country but the ultimate aim is to play the game of cricket.

“Our aim is not political and our decision to play in Pakistan is only based on our desire that we want to play cricket in Pakistan and nothing else,” he remarked.

“We are more than confident about our successful tour as we are completely satisfied with the facilities provided to us,” Bvute maintained.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe captain Chigumbura said that they are not worried about their security in Pakistan, adding that their main focus was on playing cricket and nothing else.

Pakistan were a good team having a mix of senior and junior players, remarked the Zimbabwean captain while arguing that his team had also got the same ratio of seniors and juniors.

He said his team had got two days to get acclimatised, adding that they would hopefully be ready for the series well on time.

Asked about chances of his team, the captain said his players would try their level best to play competitive cricket and added in the same breath that the team which played better game would win at the end of the day.

Meanwhile, strict security arrangements made for the visiting team are proving as a major impediment to media personnel, for they are unable to perform their duties effectively.

Policemen standing guard over not only the entrance of the stadium but also exit were not willing to give any respect to the accreditation cards issued by the PCB to the journalists.

Squad: Elton Chigumbura (captain), Sikandar Raza Butt, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Charles Coventry, Graeme Cremer, Craig Ervine, Roy Kaia, Hamilton Masakadza, Christopher Mpofu, Tawanda Mupariwa, Richmond Mutumbami, Tinashe Panyangara, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Sean Williams.

Officials: Dav Whatmore (head coach), Douglas Hondog (bowling coach), Andrew Waller (batting coach), Stanley Chioza (analyst) Anesu Mupotaringa (physio), Christian Chiketa (manager).

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2015

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