Kumar Sangakkara has stated he would love for more international teams to regularly tour Pakistan following the conclusion of the Marylebone Cricket Club's trouble-free tour of Lahore.
Sangakkara, incumbent president of the prestigious MCC, led the club's touring squad to Pakistan where MCC finished with two wins and two defeats.
The MCC arrived in Lahore on February 13 to play one 50-over fixture and three T20 games against Pakistan Shaheens, Northern, Lahore Qalandars and Multan Sultans.
Reflecting on his experience of returning to Lahore since the 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus, Sangakkara highlighted the good moments he witnessed during his stay in the country.
Contrary to the perception of touring parties being confined to hotels amidst their visits to Pakistan, the MCC contingent explored various parts of the metropolitan city as communicated by Sangakkara.
“It's been great to be back in Pakistan," he said in a PCB podcast.
“It's been a long time since I came here and it has been even longer for the MCC. For us, it has been about coming here and playing cricket in support of Pakistan's journey of getting international cricket back.
“It's important that, when you are in a country on a tour, you're not confined to a hotel, but you can go around and enjoy the city and the country you're in.
“It is excellent for us to get to the [Lahore] Gymkhana golf course quite a few times. The players absolutely loved it. We were hosted with some amazing hospitality and warmth."
“The message we will be taking back is about the warmth of the people, the welcome of the fabulous spectators who came to watch cricket, the passion the players and people have for it and our own experiences of playing here and traveling about in Lahore.
“We would love for teams to consider coming here so that international cricket can finally come back to Pakistan in full force.”
Sangakkara focused on the overwhelming reception his team received in MCC's clash against Lahore Qalandars where the tourists triumphed over their opponents by four wickets.
A raucous crowd greeted the opening match of the tour, serving as a dress rehearsal for the fifth edition of the Pakistan Super League.
“I remember all those matches that I've played here but it's always special to come back and revisit it. We never expected such a big crowd for a first game against the Qalandars. When we got to the ground, we had almost 19,000 people, hungry to watch some cricket.
“We were really, really impressed and we're very, very moved and we understand very, very easily how much passion there is and how the lack of international cricket is not a great thing for Pakistan, for the people, for the players and for the financial status of the PCB.”
Getting the chance to play against some of the exciting future prospects in Pakistan cricket, Sangakkara also praised the young talent in the country.
“I think Pakistan cricket is in a very healthy state,” he said.
“Pakistan has always produced exceptional cricketers, especially young cricketers with a lot of variety; really fast bowlers, really good batsmen, mystery spinners, wrist spinners, you name it. This trip was no different," Sangakkara concluded.