Paul Collingwood, the English representative in the World XI side, termed his experience of being in Lahore as “very, very positive” after his side fell 20 runs short of Pakistan’s 197 Tuesday in the first of the three T20Is.
The series, which is said to carry a significance beyond just cricket, holds the key of the revival of international cricket in Pakistan. If these three matches go smoothly, Sri Lanka and the West Indies will play one and three T20 matches respectively in Lahore later this year.
Against this backdrop, it is important for the PCB that the touring party provides favorable feedback. The situation until now seems to be going well.
“The experience that I am having here is very, very positive because I can sense everybody wants this to work out,” Collingwood said. “Everyone wants these games to be a success. Hopefully this is a small stepping stone for future cricket [tours] in Pakistan. I am very proud [to be in Pakistan]. The way the World XI team has been received in the ground and on the social media, it has been superb.”
The 41-year-old is one of the few cricketers in the World XI to have a Pakistan tour under their belts. He was part of the English Test side that toured Pakistan for three Tests in 2005 after their historic Ashes triumph at home.
England ended up losing the Test series 2-0 after they were thrashed by an innings and 100 runs in Lahore as their scores of 288 and 248 in first and second innings fell short of Pakistan’s mammoth 636 for eight. But on a personal note, the Lahore Test went well for Collingwood as he made 96 and 80.
Full match highlights
“Don’t look at me like that, Tamim,” Collingwood said in jest when Tamim Iqbal, who sat beside him, looked visibly surprised after a reporter quoted the Englishman's previous scores at the ground. “Don’t be surprised. I got 90-odd against Shoaib Akhtar, very quick bowler. The question was with regards to Collingwood's return to the venue.
“I have some very good memories from here,” he continued, recalling that “it was a shame I didn’t get a hundred. Danish Kaneria caught the ball when I went for the hook shot. I couldn’t believe it. I am pretty sure he couldn’t either.”
Despite international cricket being played in the country after more than two years, there were some visible holes in the crowd. When asked whether he found the intensity to be the same as his last tour’s, Collingwood, who had said he found Karachi’s crowd to be the most passionate around the world before arriving in Pakistan, said: “The crowd was not to 100 percent capacity but by the noise they made you sense they are really enjoying Pakistan playing again in their country.”
Collingwood hoped that the exposure to the conditions in the first T20I would help his side produce better results in the next two games. “I think we have understood the conditions better after playing today,” he said. “Hopefully after today’s game we can take out the information and use it tomorrow and have a better performance.”
The second and the third T20Is will be played on Wednesday and Friday at the same venue.