LAHORE - The cricket-crazy nation Tuesday thronged the Gaddafi Stadium in a great number to witness the international stars in action and showing gratitude to the World XI for coming to Pakistan.

After 2009 attacks on Sri Lankan team, no team was ready to visit the country but due to an all-out effort of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) high-ups and assurance from federal and provincial governments and armed forces, the Kenya and Zimbabwe teams came here to play and now after a gap of eight years, World XI , the first major cricket team, is came Pakistan to play a three-match series.

The credit goes to the passionate cricket lovers of the country, who not only showed great discipline and patience but also kept on standing in long queues before entering the stadium. It was very colourful andjoyful environment as wherever you can see a great number of cricket aficionados. Some were in unique dresses to get maximum attraction while many were wearing green shirts. They were holding placards to illustrate their love and passion for cricket and their gratitude to World XI players.

The placards were showing the lines such as “Pakistan Zindabad”, “P for Peace and P for Pakistan”, “Welcome to World XI”, “Cricket comes home” and “Faf, we love you”. One of the fans also reminded the Indians the moments of Champions Trophy final by showing on placard, “338/4, 158/10, We won’t let you forget”.

The venue was jam-packed as it was filled with fervent fans, who not only came from the city but also from different parts of the country. The entire arena was very well embellished and presenting the bridal look. A great number of huge billboards can be seen everywhere, showing the pictures of the World XI , which comprises mega stars from South Africa, Australia, West Indies, Bangladesh, England, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

The security was foolproof not only on the premises of the stadium but also from the set points, where the spectators have to park their vehicles and have a shuttle service to enter the venue. Right from the first checkpoint, the fans have to show their national identity cards and tickets to get a go-ahead while they have to further go through at least four security checkpoints to enter the stadium.

Thousands of security officials including army soldiers, rangers and police, deployed in and outside the stadium, were busy in performing their duties and keeping vigilant eyes on each and every person. All the security officials were committed and dedicated to not only provide the best security to the visitors but were also keen to assist the local crowd to avoid any untoward incident.

The passion of fans was really commendable, which compelled them to forget about long distance and queues, and instead made them more disciplined and tolerant. The fans were eager to express their views and feeling to media. “I am a passionate cricket lover and I am here to support Pakistan team but I will also cheer for World XI players, who came here in the time of need, which is highly laudable,” said Yashal Mazhar, a student of BS Honour from NUML.

Another cricket lover Mohsin Ijaz, who came from Islamabad to watch international players playing at home ground, said: "I love Hashim Amla, who is my all time favourite player. I don't care which team wins, as the ultimate winner will be Pakistan, because this series will help resume international cricket in Pakistan.”