Members of the World XI that will take on Pakistan in the Independence Cup T20 series starting in Lahore from Tuesday are in Dubai to train for the historic tour. For West Indies star Daren Sammy, it’s an opportunity for cricketers from across the globe to play for a greater cause and help Pakistan cricket take another step towards international inclusion.
The World XI, which includes star names like Faf du Plessis (captain), Hashim Amla, Sammy, Tamim Iqbal and Imran Tahir among others, will play three T20 matches in Lahore and Sammy, who played for Peshawar Zalmi during the PSL final in Lahore this year, is glad to be part of the reintegration process.
“We have a reason, for a greater cause. Everybody here has accepted they are part of something more important than just themselves. For me, it’s a place where I have great connection. If we could be part of history and greater purpose of helping fans in Pakistan watch cricket again… it is a wonderful thing,” Sammy said in Dubai on Saturday.
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“At the PSL final, once I stepped onto the field, it felt like playing in St Lucia. The people are just hungry for cricket. That’s what I told the coach (Andy Flower) when he asked me about my experience.”
When the PSL final was scheduled to be held in Pakistan, there was a lot of apprehension among international players regarding security. After a lot of deliberations, the match went ahead with players like Dawid Malan, Marlon Samuels and Chris Jordan in the mix. Sammy shared his PSL experience with his current team-mates and only had positive things to say.
“I briefed players quickly about my experience in Lahore during the PSL final. It’s important… I get to play in front of my fans in St Lucia and see how passionate they are. (For Pakistan fans) to get that opportunity after so long, very happy to be part of that process.
“The time we went to the PSL final, I heard soon after about the World XI. I would have been very disappointed if I was not part of that team,” the two-time World T20 winning captain added.
While it is being seen as a some sort of a goodwill tour, these are still international matches and Sammy said it was important for players to keep their focus on being competitive.
“I know this is for a bigger cause but cricket is the most important thing. As professional, you take pride in what you do. And that in itself brings out the competitive edge. And this goes on your stats as well. Andy (Flower) and captain Faf will ensure we are competitive. Because that’s what fans are paying their money for.”
Their opponents Pakistan are on a high having clinched the 50-overs Champions Trophy following a crushing win over India in the final. Sammy believes while the format is different, Pakistan will take confidence from the manner in which things are falling into place as far as limited overs cricket is concerned.
“This is a different format. They won the Champions Trophy in England. It shows PSL has done a lot in unearthing talent. If you look at their current stars like Hasan Ali, Fakhar Zaman… these are all guys who got a chance to play in the PSL and share the dressing room with international players.”