Sports News

Pakistan captain Azhar eyes Karachi win for 'memorable' series

LAHORE (Reuters) - Having already realised the dream of playing a test in front of the home crowd in the drawn opening match against Sri Lanka in Rawalpindi, Pakistan captain Azhar Ali said on Wednesday the team are eyeing a win in Karachi to make the series memorable.

The two-match series marks Pakistan’s first tests on home soil since a militant attack in 2009 on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore.

That attack left six security personnel and two civilians dead and six players injured, and meant Pakistan spent the next decade in the test wilderness as teams refused to play there.

The series is also part of the World Test Championship, which sees the top nine test nations face-off over a two-year period, scoring points based on their success and culminating in a final at Lord’s in June 2021.

Pakistan have lost six out of their last seven tests and it was time to get back on track with victory in the second test that starts from Thursday, Azhar said.

“We all dreamt of test cricket’s return to Pakistan and wanted to play in front of our home crowd,” he told reporters. “It’s a matter of great happiness.

“Along with that it’s also the World Test Championship and we want to make our first series at home memorable by winning this test. We will try our best to perform well as a team and produce a good result.

“It is a home series and this is a big opportunity for any team, especially as a part of the WTC, that you utilise the home advantage and win these tests at home.”

After the Pakistan Cricket Board promised watertight security for the tour, Sri Lanka played several limited overs matches earlier this year in Pakistan, though 10 key players opted out citing security concerns.

Captain Dimuth Karunaratne was one of the players to have opted out of the limited-overs leg but travelled for the tests.

“Now I regret it but at that time it was a really hard decision to take,” he said. “I had never been to Pakistan and I had heard lots of things about Pakistan in the news and social media, not good and not positive things.

“But guys who had come here had some really good comments and that’s why the seniors decided that we should go and play a good test series. So once we were here, it was really good.”

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Christian Radnedge