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LAHORE, Pakistan: : The Kenyan cricket team arrived in Lahore amid tight security on Wednesday, becoming the first non-Asian visitors to militancy-wracked Pakistan for more than five years.
Kenya, who reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2003 but have since failed
to emerge as a top-flight cricketing nation, are set to play five matches
against a second-string Pakistani team.
International tours to Pakistan have been suspended since militants
attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009, killing eight
people and injuring seven visiting players.
Only neighbouring Afghanistan, which is facing its own Taliban insurgency,
has visited the country in the interim, playing a short one-day series in
2011 and a Twenty20 against second-string team Pakistan A last month.
The Kenyan team bus was guarded by eight police vans and their route to
National Cricket Academy, close to the headquarters of Pakistan Cricket Board
(PCB) at Lahore’s Gadaffi stadium, was cordoned off.
The visitors will stay in the Academy, which lies behind 14 giant gates,
and will play all five one-day matches against Pakistan A at the same venue.
Kenya coach Steve Tikolo said his team wants to put all issues other than
“We want to forget all side issues,” Tikolo, a former captain, told media.
“Politics and whatever other issues, we don’t want to discuss. If you are
a cricketer you just play cricket and we are here to play it and nothing
Tikolo added the tour could open the way for other countries to follow
“Since we landed here this morning and up until now (the way) they looked
after us has been great, to say the least. So I think other countries should
also come and play cricket.
“If you want to move world cricket forward, this is what should be
The Pakistan Cricket Board have made special security arrangements for the
series, including shutting down businesses in the vicinity of the stadium for
two weeks, though the games will be open to spectators.
The PCB’s efforts to host Bangladesh failed twice in 2012 and 2013, with
the team backing out over security fears.
Pakistan had also finalised a short limited-over series with Ireland in
September this year but had to cancel it after a bloody attack on Karachi
Kenya will play its matches on December 13, 15 16, 18 and 20.