DUBAI - The world has been left stunned by the latest tragedy that has befallen the nation of Pakistan. We all witnessed the horror as news spread about the evil attack on a school in Peshawar in which scores of kids were brutally killed by a few deranged fanatics. History has seen many atrocities but this act shook the very core of humanity. For Pakistan’s cricketers, playing against New Zealand in the UAE, it must have been truly shattering.

Cricket in Pakistan has paid a huge price for the acts of terrorists for a long time now. International cricket remains suspended in the country following the attack on Sri Lanka’s cricketers in Lahore in 2009. Six Sri Lankan players were injured on that day and it’s a miracle no cricketer lost his life. Had it not been for the courage shown by Tillakaratne Dilshan, who put his life in danger by helping the driver steer the bus away from the site, we would definitely not have been able to watch the likes of Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Muttiah Muralitharan again. That was the day that changed the face of cricket forever, as cricket crazy Pakistan was forced to bid goodbye to their beloved sport. The Pakistanis have since been forced to play in the UAE and fans of the game in their country have had to make do with watching their favourite players on TV.

What that did was suck the life out of Pakistan cricket. With almost no prospect of the game returning to the country, interest among the youth to play the game professionally dipped considerably. In such a scenario, the Pakistan management must be commended for taking a stand and going ahead with the remaining fixtures of the New Zealand series here in the UAE.

They could have easily called off one or all of the matches and mourned with their nation. But Team Pakistan decided to make it clear to those hell bent on spreading fear that they have suffered enough, even though the players admitted they were not in the right frame of mind to play. A noble sport that brings joy to millions has already been denied the opportunity of entertaining its followers in cricketing bastions like Lahore, Rawalpindi and Karachi.

Whatever is left of Pakistan cricket is too precious to be squandered away and even if their stars are forced to play in faraway lands, at least they are getting to battle with the best in the world. The Pakistan team suffer every single day when they take the field, knowing they might never get to celebrate in front of their own people. The fragile structure of its cricket can’t be allowed to wither away. The team, therefore, needs to be lauded for its defiance.

People are still passionate about cricket in Pakistan, but when you know there is hardly any money to be made out of the sport at home and the finances of the board hang by the thread, raw talent is bound to seek greener pastures. The latest attack has set cricket in Pakistan back even further, if that was even possible. Kenya had sent their team to the country in an effort to kickstart the long and arduous process of bringing top class international cricket back in the country.

But that effort has already suffered a jolt, with a scheduled match now being postponed. And even though it’s not being said right now, Pakistan’s chances of hosting international matches now look extremely slim.            –Courtesy Sport360