Misbah ul Haq never captained Pakistan in Pakistan during his captaincy tenure. (Image credit: Twitter)
The terror attacks on the Sri Lanka cricket team on March 1, 2009 in Lahore during the second Test match put Pakistan and its cricket in trouble. Following the attack, teams refused to tour Pakistan for any international games. The 2011 World Cup hosting was snatched from them. The team had to play their 'home' games at the UAE for close to 10 years. However, slowly, the situation has improved. Zimbabwe were the first team to travel in 2015, followed by tours from the ICC World XI, West Indies and Sri Lanka in 2017 for one Twenty20 International. With the Pakistan Super League being held without a hitch in the country, Pakistan will now host Sri Lanka for three ODIs and three Twenty20 Internationals in Karachi and Lahore respectively.
The series will be the first for Pakistan under Misbah-ul-Haq, the new head coach and chief selector. Misbah captained Pakistan for close to six years and in 56 Tests but he never managed to do that at home in Pakistan. Misbah played just five Tests in Pakistan and ahead of the first match, he has urged the world to help Pakistan revive their international cricket.
"Cricket world need to do more, not only for Pakistan but for any country where it is hit. Pakistan is a cricket-loving country and it would be injustice to deprive them of international cricket, so I hope that the world will support us more and more. Otherwise the survival of cricket will be difficult," Misbah said.
However, the tour to Pakistan was under a cloud in Sri Lanka after reports emerged that the team could be targeted in a terrorist attack. The withdrawal of 10 top players also did not help. There were allegations from Pakistan's Science and Tenchology Minister that India was coercing the Sri Lanka players to not tour Pakistan. However, the Defence Ministry of Sri Lanka gave the go-ahead and the team arrived in the country under massive security. Misbah understood the problems faced by Sri Lanka.
"I know it would have been a tough decision for Sri Lanka to tour. It's a special moment for all of us and players are excited as well as emotional, playing before their home fans and at home ground, so it's really special," Misbah said. For many Pakistan players in the side, this will be their first match on home soil with the likes of Sarfaraz Ahmed, Wahab Riaz, Babar Azam and Haris Sohail all playing in front of their home fans once before. Pakistan plays the first one-day international on Friday and the remaining two matches will also be held in Karachi on Sunday and Wednesday. The three Twenty20 internationals will be in Lahore on October 5, 7 and 9.