Pakistan team leaves for India T20Is
The Pakistan Twenty20 cricket team left for India on Saturday from Lahore to participate in a one-day and T20 series.
Hafeez will lead Pakistan in the T20Is against India
This bilateral series is going to be the first between the two arch rival teams in last five years. With Mohammad Hafeez being the skipper, the Twenty20 squad left Pakistan. Some players, who are not in the Twenty20 squad but in the ODI side, will leave Pakistan on December 26. Thse players are Misbah-UL-Haq, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Imran Farhat, Wahab Riaz, Haris Sohail, and Anwar Ali.
After the end of the training session in Lahore, Mohammad Hafeez said that they were ready and eager to take the challenge against India. He praised India as a very balanced T20 team but hoped that they might be a bit down after losing the test series against England.
He further said that nobody could ignore the intense pressure of a Pakistan-India series. Though he hoped not to take much pressure, he admitted that the contest between the two countries had always been full of expectations.
The last bilateral series between these two arch rival teams was in 2007 when India was the host. Now, it was Pakistan’s turn to be the host but India was not eager to play in a neutral venue. After the terrorist attack on Sri Lankan Cricket team in Lahore in 2009, the ICC banned International cricket in Pakistan. However, the bilateral ties between the two countries were snapped even before the incident in Pakistan. The two countries stopped hosting each other after the terror attack in Mumbai in November 2008.
Shaharyar Khan, an ex PCB Chairman, told ESPNcricinfo that cricket had always played its role in toning down the tensions. He added that no matter who won, the cricket diplomacy would improve the relationship between the two countries.
The series will begin with a T20 International match in Bangalore on December 25. The second and last T20 will be played in Ahmedabad on December 28. The three One-day Internationals will be played in Chennai, Kolkata and New Delhi on December 30, January 3, and 6 respectively.