World XI to play two Twenty20s in Pakistan
In a bid to revive international cricket in Pakistan, a World XI will play two exhibition Twenty20 matches against a Pakistan Star XI, the Sindh sports minister Dr Mohammad Ali Shah has announced.
The 'World XI' team - a name the ICC has objected to*, since, as per an AFP report, it "doesn't permit the names World or World XI for exhibition matches" - is comprised of former and active professional players from Sri Lanka, West Indies, South Africa and Afghanistan. The two matches will be played on October 20 and 21 at the National Stadium Karachi with former Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya slated to lead the World XI against a Shahid Afridi-led Pakistan XI.
"World XI team will be arriving in Karachi on October 18 to play a series of two twenty20 matches," Shah said. "There are some notable player touring and this is a big breakthrough.
"I have been working from last one year to make this event possible. We have finalised all the arrangements to hold these matches in a befitting manner under tight security. Both matches will be played under floodlights. The event will give a soft image of Pakistan around the world and would encourage the teams to visit Pakistan."
"Around 5,000 policemen will be employed to avoid any lapse and we are sure that these arrangements will put the players at ease," said Shah. "All the players are excited over the prospect of visiting Pakistan."
The idea to bring a World XI to Pakistan was first lobbied a year ago, but the tour was cancelled twice earlier this year when PCB refused to sanction the tournament. The PCB has issued 'No Objection Certificates' to the contracted players due to participate this time and has allowed the use of the National Stadium, but all the logistic arrangements, broadcasting deals and security arrangements were made by Shah with the support of the local government in Karachi.
Pakistan has not had international cricket since terrorists ambushed the Sri Lanka team bus during a Test match in Lahore in March 2009. Since then, Pakistan has had to play most of their 'home' matches in the UAE. The PCB's recent attempt to have Bangladesh tour were stymied when the Bangladesh high court set a four-week embargo on the national team's plans to visit Pakistan, citing concerns over security.
World XI: Sanath Jayasuriya (capt), Ricardo Powell, Steven Taylor, Jermaine Lawson, Adam Sanford (West Indies), Justin Kemp, Loots Bosman, Andre Nel, Andre Seymore, Nantie Hayward (South Africa), Shapoor Zadran and Mohammad Shahzad (Afghanistan). Officials: Alvin Kallicharran (coach cum manager)
Pakistan XI: Shahid Afridi (capt), Younis Khan, Nasir Jamshed, Asad Shafiq, Shahzaib Hasan, Khalid Latif, Umar Akmal, Fawad Alam, Shoaib Malik, Umar Gul, Mohammad Sami, Wahab Riaz, Sarfraz Ahmed (wicketkeeper), Imran Nazir
*04:44pm GMT, October 17: This article has been updated following the ICC's objection to the team name
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent