LAHORE - The visit of Sri Lankan team has reignited the passion for cricket among the people who have been longing for such an international event.

The Lankan cricket team received warm welcome. Cricket fans flocked to the stadium carrying placards inscribed with slogans like “Thank you, Sri Lanka for visiting Pakistan”. High-ups appreciated the visitors who braved security threats.

Speaking at the prize distribution ceremony of Pakistan-Oman four match hockey series at Johar Hockey Stadium, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar said it is ‘a good omen for the country’s sports that foreign teams started visiting Pakistan’.

The Punjab governor said the visit of the Oman hockey team is a step forward in the resumption of international hockey in Pakistan where security has improved a lot.

“It is good to see Oman playing in Lahore where at the same time Sri Lanka cricket team is also playing T20 matches and the visit of foreign teams will portray a soft image of Pakistan.

“Both Pakistan and Oman presented good hockey and we are delighted to host the Oman team in Lahore for a four match series” ,he said adding “ The visit of the Oman team will definitely be a big way of learning for them as Pakistan has a glittering past in hockey.”

He emphasised the need to launch collective efforts for the revival and development of hockey in country and assured Government’s support to PHF in this regard.

The Punjab governor said Pakistan is a safe country for hosting elite sports events and foreign teams should visit the country considering the fact that security situation has risen to a significant level due to continuous efforts of the government.

He said top security arrangements are being made to ensure the safety of the foreign teams and Government is doing a lot in this regard in the larger interest of country’s sports and to bring back international sports activities to Pakistan.

He called upon the officials of the PHF to organise hockey activities at grass root level to identify new hockey talent and to regain lost glory.

Also, Punjab Minister for Sports, Youth Affairs and Tourism Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti said the provincial government had made excellent arrangements for the T20 cricket series.

He said the extraordinary measures had been taken by the government for smooth conduct of the three match high-profile cricket series.

The minister said sufficient parking arrangements had been made for convenience of cricket-lovers. “Free shuttle bus service has been arranged to provide spectators commuting facility,” he added.

Besides these arrangements, several banners and boards have been placed at key spots to provide complete awareness and information to the cricket enthusiasts. 

The district administration provided wheelchairs for the disabled cricket fans at five parking facilities. Lahore Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Asghar Joyia said that all cricket fans would able to enjoy the match at the stadium including disabled persons.

The admin also issued duty roster for the parking areas that will be managing the traffic.  

 In 2009, SL team bus was attacked by terrorists, claiming the lives of eight people and leaving several players injured. The tour also looked in doubt after the Sri Lankan cricket board said it had been warned by its government about a possible security threat. But the tour finally got the go-ahead after Islamabd promised that the army would coordinate the security over the two-week-long visit.

Over the past four years, Pakistan has successfully hosted Zimbabwe, the West Indies, Sri Lanka, and a World XI for limited-overs matches amid intense security as it tries to win back the confidence of foreign teams to restart fully-fledged international cricket at home.