Pakistan is one of the best cricketing destinations-Sangakkara

2020-02-14 at 11:50

Kumar Sangakkara hopes the Marylebone Cricket Club’s tour of Pakistan will help to encourage nations to regard the country “as one of the best cricketing destinations”.

MCC president Sangakkara was part of the Sri Lankan side that was attacked in 2009 when 12 gunmen opened fire on the team bus near the Gaddafi Stadium.

But the 42-year-old, back in Lahore at the start of the MCC’s first tour of Pakistan in 48 years, says he is determined to help the nation stage more games in the future.

“On behalf of the MCC and for me personally, we’re thrilled to be here,” said Sangakkara.

“Sri Lanka was one of the first teams to come back and play Test cricket here. And as a fellow Sri Lankan and also as the president of the MCC and a part of this tour, I’m so happy that we’re able to do our part to try and encourage countries to look at Pakistan as one of the best cricketing destinations.

“It has been that in the past, and I’m sure it will be that again very soon.”

The MCC will contest a 20-over match against Lahore Qalandars at the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday before facing the Pakistan Shaheens in a 50-over fixture on Sunday.

The tourists – whose 12-man squad includes Ravi Bopara, Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Ross Whiteley – will then meet Northern and Multan Sultans in 20-over matches on February 17 and 19 respectively.

Wasim Khan, Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive, described the tour as a “huge coup”.

“Until we break that barrier of having non-Asian countries coming, it’s always going to be difficult for us to make the first step.

“But Kumar Sangakkara has been adamant from the word go that Pakistan was a safe place to come and play cricket. There was a need to bring cricket back to the country, for the nation, for the people, but also our sustainability as well as a nation.”

England have not played a Test series in Pakistan since 2005, when Michael Vaughan’s side suffered a 2-0 defeat, with subsequent series in 2011/12 and 2015/16 being staged in the United Arab Emirates.