LONDON - Pakistan’s Champions Trophy victory could encourage the world’s top cricket nations to resume touring the country, captain Sarfraz Ahmed says.

There has not been an international match in Pakistan since a 2009 attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus killed six policemen and injured seven cricketers.

“Hopefully this win will boost Pakistan cricket and all playing nations will come and play us,” said Sarfraz, 30.

Pakistan beat India by 180 runs at The Oval on Sunday.

The United Arab Emirates has become Pakistan’s cricketing home in recent years but a World XI is scheduled to tour their country in September for three Twenty20 games.

“After the India match I said to my boys, the tournament is not finished yet. We played very well and now we have won the final,” he said.

On Fakhar Zaman, Sarfraz said: “He’s a great impact player, in his first ICC event, he played like a champion, he can be a great player for Pakistan. All credit goes to my bowlers, Muhammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, they bowled really well. It’s a young team, credit goes to my boys, this tournament can be a great booster for us. We played like we had nothing to lose, now we are champions,” said Sarfraz.

“Not just today, not just tomorrow, this day will be remembered in Pakistan for years to come, said a beaming Sarfraz as he made a passionate plea to other nations to play international cricket in their country.

No major cricketing nation has toured Pakistan since the terrorist attack on Sri Lanka team back in 2009.

“It was a great achievement by the boys and full credit to them. Everyone will remember this achievement, not just for today or tomorrow but for a long, long time in Pakistan cricket. The boys were really motivated today. We came here as a number eight ranked team and won the tournament. Hope all nations now come and play cricket in Pakistan, Sarfraz said at the post-match press conference.

“It is an unbelievable feeling which I can’t describe at the moment though. I dedicate this win to the people of Pakistan.

Sarfraz spoke about the benefits of Pakistan Super League (PSL). “We have had youngsters benefitting from PSL. Players like Hasan Ali, Fakhar Zaman were playing their first tournament and showed us that what they are capable of. Lot of credit also goes to senior players like Hafeez bhai (Mohammed Hafeez) and a brilliant spell from Amir, said Sarfraz.

For him, Pakistan cricket has gone through rough times. “For years now, Pakistan is playing home matches in Dubai. We don t get the home advantage like other teams. Through this victory, I would like to appeal to the other teams that please come and play in Pakistan.”

It was his day and as if he wanted to make a statement in his own style. Before the press conference began, Pakistan media manager announced that Sarfraz will make a statement.

Sporting a white blazer and a coruscating golden trophy on the table, he looked happier than ever. No one cared for those syntax errors due to language limitations. It sounded endearing as it was a sincere appeal from him.

Meanwhile, a section of Indian cricket fans reacted to Pakistan’s convincing victory over India in the final of the Champions Trophy on Sunday by smashing television sets in protest back in India but their captain was sporting in defeat, congratulating the Pakistani side for its performance and acknowledging that the Indian team would have to learn from its mistakes and move on.

“Small margins can be massive but we’ve only lost a game of cricket, we need to move forward and learn from our mistakes. The pitch was consistent throughout, we backed out strengths (to chase),” Kohli said, after Pakistan outplayed India by 180 runs to win their maiden Champions Trophy – and wrest the title from India.

Kohli also said he backed his boys to chase in the title clash. “We can’t take anyone lightly but they were more intense and passionate on the day. With the ball we could have had a few more wicket-taking opportunities. We tried to do our best, but even with the ball, they were aggressive, we didn’t show any resistance apart from Hardik, who’s knock was outstanding,” he said.

Despite the heavy loss, Kohli had a smile on his face.

“I want to congratulate Pakistan, they had an amazing tournament, the way they turned things around, speak volumes for the talent they have. They proved it again, they can upset anyone on their day, disappointing for us but I have a smile on my face because we played well to reach the final,” Kohli added.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 19-Jun-2017 here.