A team in need is a friend indeed

    Image source: AFP

    There were the questions raising over security situations in the country due to recent blast incident in Bulawayo. The tri-series was supposed to happen in the country and there was a system of confusions whether the series will happen at the scheduled time or not. Cricket Australia showed their concerns before touring for the tri-series but agreed to tour Zimbabwe because the tournament was supposed to take place in the different city, Harare. However, all were looking to Pakistan because they had to play five-match One-Day series in Bulawayo after the tri-series. Despite all security threats and political tensions going around in Bulawayo, Pakistan did not refuse to play the five-match One-Day series in Bulawayo to help their fellow cricket team in their difficult circumstances. It finally was a time to return their favour, a favour which brought back the smiles back to the country in their hour of darkness.

    All started in 2009 when the bus of the tourist team was attacked by militants when an away team was on the way to play the third day of the test match at Lahore. Seven Sri-Lankan cricketers were injured with seven people getting killed in the horrific incident. Pakistan was supposed to host the One-Day World Cup with the co-hosts India, Sri-Lanka and Bangladesh and one of the semi-finals of the grand event was also scheduled to light up Gaddafi stadium but in a board meeting on April 14, 2009, International Cricket Council decided to take away hosting rights of World Cup from Pakistan due to the security concerns and an event which was supposed to happen in the country after 15 years was reduced to three hosts, India, Sri-Lanka and Bangladesh. There was a huge protest in the country against the decision of the International Cricket Council with people calling it one of the hugest disasters in the history of the nation.

    There were a lot of preparations for the mega event. There were the thoughts about the young generation of the nation who would have a privilege to witness the beauty in front of their eyes. Yet there happened one of the most tragic incidents in the history of the country, all the hopes and the dreams were shattered.

    Pakistan faced innumerable problems since then, many times the teams agreed to tour the country but they would refuse to come in case of any recent incident that would happen to stop the joys and happiness coming in the way. On the 30th May of 2015, after a lot of efforts of the cricket board, Pakistan convinced the Zimbabwean team to tour Pakistan for a three-match ODI and two-match T20I series. There were a lot of tours made to check the security of the country. On the 6th of May, FICA warned Zimbabwean Cricket Board about the situation in Pakistan and told them that Pakistan is still not a safe place to play cricket. The Federation of International Cricketers’ Association (FICA) told the tourist teams about the situation explained by their security professionals in which their authority said: “The risk is unimaginable.”

    A team in need is a friend indeed.
    Pakistan Cricket Team was deprived of playing in their home country for 6 years. © Getty Images

    It was a huge blow keeping in mind of all the circumstances the country was going through, no international cricket happening from 6 years, teams refusing to give their hand at the difficult moment, boards refusing to send their players at the last moment and even the governing bodies not even giving their support, it was really a difficult ride. There was a situation of uncertainty between the two boards and in the meantime, a tragedy happened in the biggest city of Pakistan. On the 13th of May 2015, eight gunmen attacked the bus in an area of Karachi and approximately 43 people were killed in the incident. The preparations were made; the squad of the touring team was announced, even the fixtures were out. Keeping in perspective of all the things, Zimbabwe released a press release in which they announced that the Zimbabwean tour to Pakistan is suspended. Pakistanis were disappointed and an opportunity of finally bringing back the nation’s biggest sports was ruined.

    After four days, there was an unbelievable turnaround of events after the negotiations made by Pakistan Cricket Board. Zimbabwean Cricket Team agreed to tour Pakistan and made the decision against the suggestions gave by their country’s sports and Recreation Commission (SRC).  Zimbabwean Cricketers had to sign the indemnity form because the permission was not given by Recreation Commission and they were asked to only tour on their own guarantee. Keeping in mind their future, all 16 players decided to tour Pakistan. Pakistan Cricket Board gave a clear assurance about the security of players and guaranteed them a special protocol.

    Zimbabwe toured Pakistan in 2015 to play 3 ODI and 2 T20I.  Image source: AP/File

    It was a great support by Zimbabwean Cricket Board to finally initiate things in the country despite all chaos going around in past.  After their tour, the cricket was finally brought back to the country. The star-studded squad of World XI toured Pakistan, the matches of Pakistan Super League were organized and finally two more international teams toured the country, Sri-Lanka and West-Indies helped Pakistan to regain their reputation in the world of cricket.

    Zimbabwe stood out for their cricketing neighbours while keeping aside all the conflicts and Pakistan did the same as a true friend. A true friend is one who stands beside you in an hour of need and Pakistan-Zimbabwe are certainly those true friends who gave a factual proof of this exemplary quotation “A team in need is a friend indeed.”

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