Published on 23 May 2015 | over 2 years ago
On March 3, 2009, 12 gunmen sprayed the Sri Lankan cricket team bus and accompanying vehicles with bullets, killing eight people and wounding several others.
For Pakistan cricket, it was the beginning of a dark period, which turned the country into a no-go area and forced them to play their “home” matches abroad.
On Friday, that exile ended.
Fans travelled from all over the country to witness the historic moment, Zimbabwe becoming the first Test nation to visit in six years.The heat had done nothing to dim the enthusiasm of the fans who had queued up five hours before the first ball was bowled, allowing themselves extra time for the strict security measures in place for the match.
The PCB claimed that more than 4,000 police officers had been deputed to secure the ground, and on match day, that number suddenly seemed entirely plausible.
Zimbabwe did well to post a decent 172-6 on the board.
Pakistan’s openers, Mukhtar Ahmed and Ahmed Shahzad, neither having played an international match at home, strode out, with the crowd cognizant of the task before them.
The pair bludgeoned the Zimbabwe attack, galloping away towards the target.
But, this being Pakistan, there was, of course, the obligatory collapse with the win in sight, just as the spectators were beginning to prepare for the last rites.
Pakistan lost five wickets for 27 runs and it came down to the last over.
Enter Shahid Afridi, Pakistan’s talisman, its biggest star and captain in this format of the game.
“Boom Boom! Afridi! Boom Boom! Afridi!” the crowd bellow, shaking the very foundations of the Gaddafi.
Four needed off four. Nerves had already crept in. But of course, Afridi smacks his first ball down the ground to seal the win.
Game over. Cricket was home.