ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Ehsan-ur-Rehman Mazari, who was excited for England team touring Pakistan for almost after 17 years, sees the tour as a full revival of international cricket in the country. 

“It is sending a softer image of Pakistan to the world that the situation in our country is stable and there was no security threat at all. When I was in Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games, I met their minister and thanked him also for sending their team here,” he said. 

“Currently Pakistan team is doing very well in the game and our captain Babar Azam is very talented and I hope that Pakistan team will perform well. This is good news for Pakistani fans that international cricket is fully reviving in the country. I also term Pakistan team ‘favourites’ for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup scheduled to be held in Australia this year,” he added. 

The England team would arrive in Karachi today (Thursday), for a seven-match T20Is series. The National Stadium will host matches on September 20, 22, 23 and 25. The remaining games will be held in Lahore, on September 28 and 30, and October 2 at the Gaddafi Stadium. It may be mentioned that Pakistan team ended up as runner-ups in the recently-concluded Asia Cup 2022 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

On Pakistan to host the South Asian Games next year, he said Pakistan Sports Complex is going through renovation work and he is hopeful that Pakistan will be hosting the Games with a bang. “All the facilities will be as per international standards for the Games. My personal advice is to host the Games in Islamabad as it is the federal capital but it will be decided during the board meeting,” he said. 

The Minister was of the view that though cricket was a popular game in Pakistan yet people are now noticing other games as well. “Just like Arshad Nadeem won laurels for the country in javelin throw (athletics), thus making people notice athletics,” he said. Speaking about the Pakistan Football Federation’s (PFF) affairs, Mazari said the FIFA Normalization Committee is working on the PFF elections and he is hopeful that the NC will timely hold PFF elections in a fair and transparent manner.