The Australian men’s cricket team landed in Pakistan last Sunday for a multi-format cricket tournament series. This is Australia’s first visit to Pakistan in 24 years, following the 1998 tour of the country.
The tournament starts today with a three-match Test series, followed by an ODI series on March 29, and one T20 match on April 5. This will be Pat Cummins’ first foreign Test since taking over as captain of the Australian cricket team.
This tour by the Australian Cricket Team to Pakistan comes after a long gap of international cricket teams visiting the terror-stricken country. Last September, shortly before the toss in the first one-day international scheduled in Rawalpindi, New Zealand had cancelled its tour to Pakistan citing security concerns.
Since an attack by Islamist terrorists on the Sri Lankan Cricket team in Lahore in 2009, international teams have stayed away from Pakistan.
The terrorist attack of Sri Lankan Cricketers in 2009
In 2009, the Sri Lankan cricket team visited Pakistan to play cricket matches. On March 3, they were on their way to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore in their team bus. They were accompanied by some more vehicles of staff and security personnel.
Terrorists armed with Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPGs) and assault rifles attacked the whole convoy before they could get to the stadium. When terrorists opened fire on the visiting team’s cricketers and assistants, six Sri Lankan players were critically injured, as was the team’s assistant coach who was British. Terrorists killed six security personnel and two civilians in the horrific attack.
The incident reverberated throughout the sports community and all over the world. The tour was cancelled immediately following the cancellation of the test. The Sri Lankan players were escorted to a neighbouring airbase after being evacuated from the Gaddafi stadium in a helicopter.
No major team played any cricket match in the country since then. After terrorists attacked the Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore, Pakistan experienced worldwide sports isolation. ICC President David Morgan stated that security was “not as expected” during the March 3 attacks in Lahore.
In March 2019, ten years after the attack on the Sri Lankan team in Pakistan, Bangladesh’s trip to New Zealand was cancelled after a gunman opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch. The incident happened close to the location where Bangladesh was due to play the last Test match of their New Zealand trip.
In light of Pakistan’s past with international cricket, authorities have deployed 4,100 security personnel, army snipers, and road closures for the players. Despite the high level of security, Pakistani authorities have apparently planned for the worst-case scenario.