LAHORE (Reuters) - A 1-0 victory over Sri Lanka was the icing on the cake as an emotional Pakistan team on Monday savoured their first test series on home soil for a decade.
Pakistan has been starved of test cricket since the 2009 militant attack on the Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore with top teams refusing to travel to the country due to safety concerns.
It took considerable effort, and the promise of watertight security, to convince Sri Lanka to play test matches in Rawalpindi and Karachi.
“Special thanks to the Sri Lankan team...They probably don’t know how much happiness they have given us by playing here,” Pakistan captain Azhar Ali said after the series-clinching victory in the Karachi test.
“It’s been a tough year for us as a test team but coming here, playing at home and playing after a long time, it’s been obviously an emotional moment for us.”
After a decade as test nomads, Pakistan were unsure how to exploit their home advantage.
“We had some doubts, how to win a test match here as we haven’t played test matches here for a long time,” said Azhar.
“Now we have a decent idea how to win test match in Pakistan...once we do well at home, we can take confidence to overseas.”
Bowling coach Waqar Younis was elated with the victory but felt hosting the series mattered more.
“It’s a very happy moment for the team and for all of us, for the entire country,” the former pace great told Sony Pictures Network.
“It’s good that we won but more than that it’s that cricket has come back home.
“People love cricket...it’s good that they have come in numbers and they’ve shown the world that this is a safe place.”
Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne gave a thumbs-up to the safety and logistical arrangements.
“Thanks to the Pakistan Cricket Board, they way they gave us security, it was really outstanding. We’re trying to come back here again,” he said.
Despite the successful series against Sri Lanka, teams still appear wary of touring Pakistan.
The Pakistan board is in negotiation with Bangladesh who are ready to play three Twenty20 Internationals in Lahore next month but want neutral venues for the two-test series which follows.
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Ed Osmond