ISLAMABAD:Pakistan cricketers on Wednesday asked the local fans to turn up in big numbers for the upcoming ODIs against Sri Lanka to support the two sides and cricket, as well as to celebrate the resumption of bilateral 50-over cricket in Karachi.
“Leading the Pakistan cricket team in a bilateral ODI series in front of my home crowd will be one of the highlights of my career. I can’t wait for Friday, which will mark the memorable occasion, and I hope when I walk out, I have a full-house behind me, not only cheering me but both the sides,” website cric123.com quoted Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed as saying.
“Fans are the lifeline for any sport as they are the driving force for any team or player. They give extra energy to the teams and help them produce their very best.
“History will be made on Friday when Karachi will host the first bilateral ODI series since January 2009. I request all local cricket fans to be part of history so that they can tell the next generation that they were at the National Stadium when an international series was played,” he added.
Star batsman Babar Azam said that he could not thank for the love and respect he received from his fans in the early days of his career.
“Friday will be one of my biggest days when I will take the field as Pakistan vice-captain. I will want the entire country as well as the National Stadium crowd to make this a day to remember for me,” he said.
“As a youngster, I have seen on television packed-to-capacity National Stadium for ODIs and the two matches that immediately come to my mind are the 2004 and 2008 ODIs against India. In 2004, Pakistan lost by five runs despite Inzamam-ul-Haq’s brilliant century but four years later, Younis Khan’s belligerent 123 not out steered us to eight wickets victory.”
“As a middle-order batsman, I am hoping there will be a similar crowd number when we will play Sri Lanka. The game is all about the fans and they need to come out to support cricket and the teams,” he maintained.
Leg spinner Shadab Khan expressed the hope that fans would exhibit great enthusiasm during the series. “I saw the enthusiasm and passion of the Karachi crowd at the HBL Pakistan Super League 2019. I think the success of this tournament was largely due to the backing of the Karachi crowd, which got behind the matches and made it an event to remember.”
He said he was looking forward to a similar response from the Karachi crowds. “As professional athletes, we need our fans to be behind us to motivate and inspire us.”
Pakistan coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq said that Friday’s match would be an emotional one for him as he played at the National Stadium when it last staged an ODI, also against Sri Lanka. “Ten years later, I will start my time as head coach of the Pakistan national cricket team, so the time has moved really fast.
“But one thing that stands firm is the history of Karachi crowds, which have always turned up in big numbers to support cricket. They have weathered all conditions and contributed in the success of international matches hosted at the National Stadium,” he said.
“As the national cricket team commences its 2019-20 international season in Karachi, I hope the crowds will once again be there to encourage us and help us do better. No player or team can succeed without the support of its fans, and we look forward to them being behind us when we start a new era in Pakistan cricket,” he added
Pacer Wahab Riaz said that Karachi crowds were in a privileged position to personally show their gratitude to the Sri Lanka cricket team and celebrate the resumption of bilateral ODI cricket, which was a stepping stone for bilateral Test cricket.
“I urge them to be part of the celebrations and come in big numbers to show the world the real image of Pakistan and its people.
“As a player, I know the reputation of the National Stadium, which has graced some of the greatest matches boasting some of the most iconic players of all-time. I assure all fans the two sides include players who have all the ingredients of joining the club of legends and in this background, request them to see in action making of the modern day stars.”