Zimbabwe arrive in Pakistan amid heavy security
Karachi: The Zimbabwe cricket squad landed in Lahore in the wee hours of Tuesday in an unprecedented security cover, which is a clear indication that the PCB is taking no chance to have a repeat of the 2009 incident.
Zimbabwe, the first Test squad to land in Pakistan since militants attacked the Sri Lankan team and match officials in Lahore six years back, will play two T20 matches and three ODIs all in Lahore.
Zimbabwe which was persuaded to tour Pakistan with a mixture of diplomacy and financial rewards was whisked away to its hotel after landing at the Allama Iqbal international airport where it was welcomed by Punjab Home Minister Shuja Khanzada and Zakir Khan of Pakistan Cricket Board.
Hundreds of paramilitary rangers and elite police commando’s cordoned off the airport and the route to the five star hotel as the visitors were taken in a strong security convoy with dummy buses as well while a helicopter carried out aerial monitoring.
“It is a big moment for Pakistan sports that finally a test team has come to our country and we are aware that if we successfully host this series other teams will follow,” Khanzada told the waiting media.
He said the Pakistan board had invited representatives and dignitaries of other boards to come and watch the matches and also review security arrangements for the visiting side which will return on June 1.
The minister said there was “foolproof” security involving thousands of policemen and rangers to provide a security cover to the visitors as they shuttle between their five-star hotel and the Gaddafi Stadium.
Both teams will have a practice session under lights tonight at the stadium.
The area around the Gaddafi stadium will be cordoned off, with various security checkpoints for fans, and paramilitaries will watch the area around the clock with constant surveillance from rooftops and helicopters.
Though the tour is costing the PCB around 1 million US Dollars but a senior board official said it was nothing compared to the opportunity to convince other teams to also resume playing international cricket in Pakistan.
“Money is not the issue here we want resumption of proper international cricket in our country which has been deprived of watching test teams since 2009,” the official said.