The headquarters of Pakistan’s restive North Waziristan Agency hosted a cricket match on Thursday as part of the ‘Peace Cup 2017’ organised by the Pakistan Army, Pakistan Cricket Board and PSL franchise Peshawar Zalmi.
Pakistan XI won the match against UK Media XI with a margin of 133 runs. The host team batted first and concluded its inning on 253 runs. Shahid Afridi’s 80 runs helped Pakistan to win the match whereas Kamran Akmal and Omar Ameen both scored fifties.
The UK Media XI is part of an 18-member group of journalists, lawyers, businessmen and academics aged between 21-62 which is touring Pakistan with an “aim to improve its image as a sporting nation,” Pakistani media reported.
A day earlier, the military promoted the event on its social media accounts to announce the match at Miranshah’s Younas Khan Stadium. The match was played at Miranshah on the special instructions of Pakistan army chief Gen Javed Qamar Bajwa who dubbed it as a gift to the residents of Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (Fata).
The match was telecast live via the state-run sports channel. Players of both teams marched onto the pitch wearing turbans along with their respective kits. Army officials came onto the field to greet the foreigners playing for UK media.
Prominent players on the Pakistan team included Inzimamul Haq, Shahid Afridi, Younas Khan, Kamran Akmal, Junaid Khan, Umer Gull, Mushtaq Ahmed, Riaz Afridi and Wajhat ullah Wasti.
“The visit of the UK professionals and the fixture is a part of efforts to revive international cricket in Pakistan. Except some limited over matches, the country has not hosted international cricket since the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore was attacked by terrorists in March 2009, killing eight people and injuring seven players and staff,” according to Dawn newspaper.
“Since then Pakistan have been forced to play most of their “home” games in the United Arab Emirates — with the PCB complaining they have incurred losses of around $120 million. But security has dramatically improved across Pakistan in the last two years, signalling hopes for the slow revival of international sport in the country,” the newspaper said.
The PCB as well as the Pakistani government have been taking several steps to revive the game in the country. In this regard, Pakistan had hosted five limited over matches against Zimbabwe in 2015.
In March, Pakistan successfully hosted the Pakistan Super League Twenty20 final in Lahore with English players Dawid Malan and Chris Jordan, West Indies’ Darren Sammy and Marlon Samuels and South Africa’s Morne van Wyk and Zimbabwe’s Sean Ervine competing.
Earlier this month, the World XI, comprising well known international players, visited Pakistan to play Independence Cup 2017.
Director General of Pakistan army’s media wing, Major General Asif Ghafoor, who was in attendance at the stadium, said the match will prove to the world that “Pakistan is a peaceful country.”
“We will prove to the world, through the Peace Cup, that Pakistan is a peaceful country,” he said, according to Geo News.
The DG ISPR noted that “life is back to normal in FATA, and vowed that terrorism will never be allowed to regain stronghold in the region again.”