LAHORE - Kenya team coach Steve Tikolo Wednesday said that they were cricketers and were here to play the game without being bothered by any political issues.

“We want to forget all side issues. Politics and whatever other issues, we don’t want to discuss. If you are a cricketer you just play cricket and we are here to play it and nothing else,” the Kenyan coach said.

Kenya cricket team arrived here on Tuesday night for a five-match one-day series against Pakistan A side. It is the first-ever tour of any international cricket team to Pakistan after the infamous and unfortunate incident of firing on the Sri Lanka team near the Gaddafi Stadium in 2009. From then, only the war-torn Afghanistan team has visited the country time and again but the visit of Kenyan team is being considered as the first significant step for the revival of international cricket in Pakistan. And Tikolo was also acknowledged the fact when he said the tour could open the way for other countries to follow the suit. “Since we landed here this morning and until now, the way they looked after us, it has been great. So I think other countries should also come and play cricket here. If you want to move world cricket forward, this is what should be happening.”

Coach Tikolo, who had himself captained the Kenyan side, extended greetings from Cricket Kenya and his team to Pakistan and thanked the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for their invite to play at Pakistani soil. “It’s a great honour for us to be here and play against one of the top teams of the world. Pakistan is a top cricketing nation and competing against them will help us prepare for World Cup qualifying event to be held in January.”

To a query regarding comparing his team with Pakistan A, the coach said: “Pakistan A team has some very good names like Fawad Alam, Anwar Ali, Babar Azam and other quality players. Win or loss is a part of game but the series will provide my boys useful experience. There is a mixture of experienced and young players in my team. We have five youngsters among them, two will make debut while the two have recently made their debut against Namibia in the qualifying matches.”

The former Kenyan caption said that he had already visited the country and during his stay here, he got the chance to play at Karachi and Lahore, which was a great experience for him.

Kenyan captain Shem Ngoche said though it would be tough to beat the hosts at their home ground yet he was optimistic about doing well against them. Replying to a query regarding his team strength, he stated: “We have good players in our team, some are good bowlers while others are good batsmen and fielders so a tough competition can be predicted. Overall, it will be a healthy competition, the ultimate result of which will be great exposure to my boys.”

The special security arrangements made by the PCB for the series were quite satisfactory which include shutting down businesses in the vicinity of the stadium for two weeks, though the games will be open to spectators.

Kenyan team bus was guarded by eight police vans and their route to National Cricket Academy (NCA), close to the headquarters of the PCB at Gaddafi Stadium, was cordoned off. The visitors will stay in the NCA, which lies behind 14 giant gates, and will play all five one-day matches against Pakistan A at the same venue. The matches will be played on December 13, 15 16, 18 and 20.