ICC President hails Pakistan as great host to Champions Trophy

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Lahore, Jun 19 (UNI) While security has been an ever-growing concern for this year's Champions Trophy, ICC President Ray Mali hailed Pakistan as ''a great host to a great tournament''.

''Pakistan has the venues, of course, but more importantly, it also has the passion to do real justice to what we at the ICC believe will be a superb event,'' he said at the tournament's launch here yesterday.

''We all know just how important the game of cricket is to countless numbers of people in this country and come September the whole world will get the chance to see Pakistan's love and hunger for the game first hand.'' ''Pakistan is going to be a great host to a great tournament,'' he added.

This year's Champions Trophy would see eight top cricket playing nations compete against each other, staged in three venues - Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi.

The short, sharp event, with 15 matches in just 18 days, would also play a key role in the further development of the game worldwide.

This year's tournament would generate US 10 million dollars for ICC members below the top tier, taking to US 75 million dollars the amount raised by this tournament for development since it began in 1998.

Meanwhile, PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf expressed his pleasure in hosting the prestigious tournament, the first time Pakistan has staged an ICC event since 1996 when it acted as joint host of the ICC Cricket World Cup alongside India and Sri Lanka.

''We are absolutely thrilled and delighted at hosting the ICC Champions Trophy which is the second most important tournament after the ICC Cricket World Cup,'' he said.

''And with this being the first ICC event to be held in Pakistan after 12 years, we are excited and committed to making it the best-ever for the participating teams as well as for all the spectators who will be travelling to the country in September,'' he added.

He further said the tournament would provide an excellent opportunity to Pakistan to show its passion for cricket and also its traditional hospitality.

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