LAHORE - Pakistani-born South African leg spinner Imran Tahir has said Zimbabwe team’s tour to Pakistan is a great gesture by the visitors terming it a great step towards revival of international cricket in the country.

“I am here without any security which is enough to prove Pakistan is a safe country. I pray and hope the Zimbabwe tour will be successful and will open floodgates of international cricket on Pakistan,” Imran Tahir said while talking to this scribe during his visit to Aleem Dar Cricket Academy where internationally renowned umpire Aleem Dar has invited the spinner to encourage the talented young cricketers and motivate them to be a bright future of Pakistan cricket . Former Pakistan team manager Azhar Zaiadi, along with academy’s players, was also present on the occasion. Tahir also paid rich tribute to Azhar Zaidi and Aleem Dar for their great services for Pakistan cricket .

About Pakistan’s chances against Zimbabwe during the series, being held with the purpose of reviving international cricket in the country, the African spinner said: “Pakistan players will surely have home advantage and I hope they will utilize this opportunity and play well against Zimbabwe and amused the spectators with quality cricket and victories at home ground in front of home crowd,” Tahir added.

Revealing his experience of featuring in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Tahir termed the IPL the best league of the world, and also congratulated the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for providing not only local but also international players a lot of opportunities. “I have gained a lot by playing in the IPL and found it the world’s best league where national and international players playing together quality cricket and learning and gaining a lot. I am thankful to the BCCI for providing me such a great opportunity to exhibit my prowess.”

About Pakistan domestic cricket structure, Tahir suggested there was a dire need to improve it. “The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) needs to put extra efforts to fortify the domestic structure as there is a great different between South African domestic structure and Pakistan’s and the more the PCB improves the domestic structure, the better production there will be which will help the country in getting better results at international level.”

“Pakistan players need better facilities and benefits at domestic cricket level which is the only way to get quality players. The PCB has to raise the players’ salaries and stipends at first-class cricket level if they want betterment in cricket,” he added.

When asked being a South African, what targets he has been aiming to achieve, Tahir replied: “First of all, I would like to say South Africa cricket is everything for me. I have certain goals which will surely be giving extraordinary performance for my team and earning crucial victories for it. I hope I will do best for my team.”

Earlier, Tahir, who had been playing his club cricket from former Pakistan team manager Azhar Zaidi’s club P&T Gym, was introduced to each and every player of the Aleem Dar Cricket Academy by Aleem Dar and then the leg spinner observed the talented youth of the academy bowling in the nets where he also gave them important tips to improve their bowling. He had also a photo session with the players who were eager to have a sulfide with the Pakistani-born South African cricket star.

Addressing the youngsters of the academy, Imran said: “You all are blessed one as the facilities you have been provided under the umbrella of Aleem Dar Cricket Academy, if such facilities would have been provided to me, I might have represented my country at international level twice. In our era, there were no such facilities, and we had to work really hard to reach at the higher level, which is first-class cricket after club cricket. But we played with our heart and never lost hope and the result is I am in front of you as a cricket star.

“I would like to suggest you to be good with others and spread love and peace. Be tough to your work and work hard, which will lead you to success,” he added.

He assured that whenever he would visit the country again he would pay visit to the academy again. “The Aleem Dar Cricket Academy team can also visit to South Africa when Aleem Dar Bhai will plan for it. The team will be provided good opportunities there to compete against South African club side which will be prove a great learning for them,” Tahir added.