South Africa’s Test and T20 captain Faf du Plessis told the Pakistan media he was honoured to be captaining ICC World XI which arrived in Lahore in the wee hours of Monday to play three T20Is to help Pakistan get international cricket back on its soil.
“You always look to do things in which you try to leave your mark ,” Faf said in a press conference. “I thought this was a great opportunity when the coach approached me and asked whether I wanted to captain this side. In a few years’ time when I look back on my career, it would be nice to look where I left my footprints in the game.
“But this will be something I will tell my family that it was a huge honour to be a part of it. This will help me grow as a leader as I get to captain different players from all over the world. But certainly looking back at my career it will be huge to say that I made an impact in bringing back cricket to Pakistan.”
The ICC were in talks with the PCB to bring a World XI side to Pakistan since last year but the plans were postponed twice due to terrorists activities in the city, Giles Clarke, head of ICC's task force on Pakistan, revealed. It was after the PCB staged the final of the Pakistan Super League with success in Lahore in March this year, that the notion Pakistan was ready to host international cricket in the country was accepted by cricket's governing body.
“When we spoke to the people responsible for the security and planning they gave us the peace of mind that the players want,” Faf said when asked whether there were any afterthoughts in the past 24 hours.
“They were confident that this would be a smooth sailing. As soon as we got on the plane those feelings were gone. We wanted to go to Pakistan and experience what would be a huge turnaround for world cricket. Last night has been exciting. It is not something we get to do normally. It felt like we were in a movie.”
The first of the three matches is scheduled for Tuesday and the World XI side will have their only practice session at the Gaddafi Stadium on the eve of the series opener. Their lack of exposure to the Pakistan conditions is something that the host side will look to bank on. The Sarfraz Ahmed-led Pakistan side have begun their preparations since Friday. They have had fielding and net sessions and on Sunday they faced off each other in a practice match at the LCCA ground, located in the shadows of the Qaddafi Stadium.
“I don’t think that the conditions are a big challenge,” Faf said when asked to comment on how his side had acclimatised in Lahore in the short duration. “The bigger challenge for us is to gel together as a unit. We have been together for only one or two days. But the players in the Pakistan side know each other really well.”
The World XI will play Pakistan in three T20Is on September 12,13 and 15. The success of the tour will see Pakistan host Sri Lanka for a T20I in the end of October and the West Indies for a three-T20I series in November.