Karachi is set to become the second Pakistani city to play host to a major cricketing nation in recent times, with West Indies playing a series of three T20Is there starting on April 1. High-profile cricket is becoming slightly more commonplace in the country, something head coach Mickey Arthur believes is "very special".
West Indies are set to land in Karachi on Saturday to play three back-to-back-to-back T20Is at the National Stadium, which recently hosted the Pakistan Super League final. It will be the first time international cricket will be played in Karachi since 2009, and the first T20I to ever be played at the venue. "We are all extremely excited and the buzz around Karachi when we arrived today was amazing," Arthur said after a training session at the ground. "We are very excited to see some new faces within our Pakistan team. These young guys are bringing fresh energy into the squad and they are incredibly talented.
"For the young guys, there is nothing like playing at home. I know that they have been very excited about the opportunity and I just can't wait to see the stadium full of green flags with "Dil Dil Pakistan" [a popular patriotic song] playing and our boys performing. This will be fantastic and they are very happy to be where they are at the moment. We have got a squad of 15, it's a very strong squad, and it's a squad of players that are all in some sort of form as well."
Pakistan will line up without Imad Wasim or Rumman Raees, with both failing to recover from injuries in time. Mohammad Hafeez was axed for the home games, while Kamran Akmal, the second-highest runscorer in the PSL was overlooked. Arthur said neither player fulfilled the requirements of the team. "We laid down a marker. If we look at the squad we've got, the doors are not closed on Mohammad Hafeez at all and he knows it. I had a chat with him about it, and if he is bowling, he becomes a very good option for us. If he isn't bowling, it becomes a problem. Hafeez is still a quality cricketer.
"[About Kamran] we often said that we are not going to pick players who just do well in one discipline. We want players who are able to excel in all disciplines and fielding is a non-negotiable point. If you can't field, you can't play for Pakistan. It's as simple as that. Kamran is a very good batsman but he can't field and Sarfaraz Ahmed is our wicketkeeper. So I qualify this by saying that we gave him a go in the West Indies and he didn't perform as well as he could have. He tried hard, as he does in domestic cricket all the time, but unfortunately as I said earlier if you can't field, you can't play for Pakistan."