Lahore, May 22: Cricket is set to make a comeback to Pakistan, one of the powerhouses of the game, after six years today. Foreign teams refused to play in that country after militants attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team with rifles and grenades in Lahore in March 2009. [Zimbabwean cricket team arrives in Pakistan amid tight security]
Seven Pakistanis were killed in that horrific incident while many Sri Lankan cricketers were injured. The visiting team was rescued by a military helicopter from the ground itself. [I am fearless now, says Pak umpire who survived critical injury in 2009]
In May 2002, New Zealand cricketers took the first flight home after a suicide bomb attack occurred outside the Pearl Continental Hotel in Karachi where the players of the visiting and host teams were staying.
Following the 2009 attacks, Pakistan lost the opportunity to co-host the 2011 ICC World Cup and its national team was forced to play home games in the United Arab Emirates.
The isolation that Pakistan found itself in as a result of these incidents is set to end on Friday when Pakistan will take on Zimbabwe in a T20 match in Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
The African side, after some initial hesitation, arrived in Pakistan to play two T20s and three one-day matches and Pakistani cricket authorities feel the step will help restore faith on the country as a safe international cricket venue and other teams will follow Zimbabwe's trails.
All the five matches between Zimbabwe and Pakistan will be played at the Gaddafi Stadium.
"Extraordinary" security arrangements were in place ahead of the series, police officials in Punjab (Pakistan) said.
Over 3,000 security personnel were deployed to ensure the series went on smoothly. The sports complex where the stadium is located has been sealed by the police and several checkpoints were put in place. Metal detectors and a ring of barbed wire were also set up to strengthen the defence.
The Zimbabwean and Pakistani cricket teams travelled from the hotel to the stadium with a strict security cover. Dozens of security vehicles surrounded the teams' buses with a helicopter keeping a close watch from above.
Tickets for the opening match were also sold out, despite the fact that Zimbabwe are not among the top teams in world cricket. On Thursday, long queues for ticket were seen in extremely hot conditions.