ICC backs international cricket return to Pakistan

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Lahore – The International Cricket Council (ICC) has agreed to back Pakistan’s efforts to resume international cricket in their own country and said it would provide financial assistance for security needs.

Pakistan is hosting a World XI cricket team for three T20 games in the eastern city of Lahore, a series being touted as a watershed moment for those bidding to restore international cricket in the country.

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The World XI ensured the three-match series would go down to the wire after securing a dramatic seven-wicket victory with one ball remaining on Thursday morning (NZ Time).

Sri Lankan all-rounder Thisara Perera arrived at the crease with World XI needing 69 from the final six overs and he provided the fireworks to snatch victory with an explosive 47 from just 19 deliveries.

In a devastating spell where he smashed five maximums, he hit a match-winning six off Rumman Raees.

ICC chief executive David Richardson called the matches an “important stepping stone” for Pakistan to earn the “confidence of the international sporting community”.

Pakistan has hosted only one international series since militants attacked a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in 2009, wounding six players and killing two civilians and six security officials.

“The ICC has already agreed to invest in security and improving the security capabilities for a three-year period,” Richardson said, adding he would like to see other countries sending their teams to Pakistan.

Speaking at a press briefing ahead of the second match at the Gaddafi Stadium, Richardson said the matches were an example of the “the cricket family … sticking together to help a particular member country”.

In the second game, Pakistan scored 174-6 batting first, where Babar Azam top scored again with 45.

The World XI then reached 175-3 with one ball remaining thanks to the efforts of Perera and South African batsman Hashim Amla, who scored 72 not out from 55 balls.

Former Black Caps all-rounder Grant Elliot was left out of the starting XI, having played in the first game, when Pakistan won by 20 runs.

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