Shoaib Malik © Getty Images
Shoaib Malik © Getty Images

Pakistan fans had something to cheer when international cricket returned to their land after eight years. They doubled it by trumping World XI. Since then, there had been talks about Sri Lanka and West Indies touring Pakistan in the future for a bilateral series.

Sri Lanka played 2 Tests, 3 ODIs and 2 T20Is in Pakistan’s second abode (UAE), except for the final T20I that was held at Lahore. Prior to the match, Sri Lanka’s top guns – Upul Tharanga, Lasith Malinga, Niroshan Dickwella, Chamara Kapugedara, Akila Dananjaya and Suranga Lakmal – had refused travelling to Lahore. Even head coach Nic Pothas decided to opt out.

Although Sri Lanka returned to the same stadium where the heinous terror attacks took place in 2009, Sri Lanka’s misery found no end: they were whitewashed in the T20Is as well.

Pakistan gave their fans another chance to rejoice, as they dismantled Sri Lanka in the final T20I by 36 runs. Shoaib Malik was named Man of the Match as well as Man of the Series.

Shoaib was delighted with the return of international cricket to Pakistan and expressed the same after the match.

Shoaib’s happiness knew no bounds

“When you play before [at] your own ground, when you enter the ground you feel too much happiness and you can’t describe that feeling. I am blessed that my comeback also came here in Lahore. We have sent a good message across the world, the team which was attacked (came) and it’s a positive signal. The kind of hospitality they got was tremendous. Congratulations to the whole nation,” as quoted by cricbuzz.

On Pakistan’s recent upswing in limited-overs cricket

“Consistency is the main thing. You select the right talent and then back them with consistent chances. The selection committee is giving consistent chances. Spots are not fixed in the eleven but the squad is more or less the same. This team has unity and the boys are doing well, they back each other and even lift the seniors as well.”

On his future with international cricket

“We don’t know about tomorrow but the goal is to win and a World Cup is missing from my honour. I don’t have words to show my desire but I request (you) to pray for me.”