Sports News

Pakistan v Sri Lanka: Aatif Nawaz on return of Test cricket to Pakistan

Sri Lanka ended day one of the first Test on 202-5
Test cricket returns to Pakistan – radio special
Date: Thursday, 12 December Time: 21:30 GMT
Coverage: BBC Radio 5 Live and on the BBC Sport website and app

Cricket has come back home.

As a Pakistan fan, to travel halfway across the world and to be here for this – the first ball of our first Test match on home soil in 10 years, I cannot explain how lucky and privileged I feel.

While players, fans and those involved with Pakistan cricket acknowledge the awful events of 2009, when the Sri Lanka team bus was attacked and six policemen and two civilians lost their lives, they recognise it is time to move forward and appreciate the national sport is back.

I have been in Pakistan all week and there has been such a great vibe in Rawalpindi leading up to Wednesday’s first day.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief executive Wasim Khan described it as a “momentous moment for the country” and that is the sentiment among the public too.

It has all come full circle, of course – it was the Sri Lanka team who played here last before Test cricket was suspended, and now it is the Sri Lanka team here again.

And the PCB could not have picked a better city to host the first Test.

‘We have been starved of national heroes’

Naseem Shah, 16, celebrates his first Test wicket on home soil after dismissing Sri Lanka’s Oshada Fernando

I arrived in the city a few days ago and when I first walked into the ground, I looked over and saw legendary ex-Pakistan fast bowler Waqar Younis.

Immediately, I thought back to all of Waqar’s iconic achievements in Test cricket, and specifically those in Pakistan – the back-to-back seven-wicket hauls against New Zealand in 1990 and the 7-91 he took against Zimbabwe three years later.

Then I glanced over at the honours board inside the stadium, which brought back even more memories for me; this is where Muhammad Zahid took 11 wickets in a match to thrash New Zealand, this is the very pitch where Inzamam-Ul-Haq scored 177 against a West Indies