Asia

In pictures: Pakistan readies for return of international cricket

Image copyright RAHAT DAR, EPA
Image caption International cricket returns to Pakistan on Friday for the first time in six years - and the Zimbabwean team arrived in the city of Lahore amid tight security.
Image caption Foreign teams have avoided Pakistan since gunmen attacked the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in March 2009. A driver and six policemen were killed. Seven Sri Lankan players were wounded.
Image copyright KM Chaudary, AP
Image caption Thousands of policemen have been active over the last three days to give protection to the Zimbabwean team as the host country strives to avert a repetition of 2009.
Image copyright KM Chaudary, AP
Image caption Friday's game will be a special occasion for Pakistani cricket umpire Ahsan Raza, who will be officiating following his recovery from the 2009 attack, when he was shot twice and left with a damaged lung. "For 29 days I was in the hospital and it was a big miracle that I survived," he said.
Image copyright MOHSIN RAZA, reuters
Image caption A capacity crowd of about 27,000 is expected to watch the match - the Pakistan Cricket Board said all the tickets for the two Twenty20s games have been sold.
Image copyright RAHAT DAR, EPA
Image caption The Zimbabwean team volunteered to tour Pakistan for two Twenty20s and three one-day internationals in the same city where gunmen carried out the 2009 attack.
Image copyright RAHAT DAR, EPA
Image caption The Zimbabwean team is confident that the tour will be a success. "We hope that by coming here we've shown that cricket is, and will be, the winner. We look forward to an exciting two weeks. My team and I are raring to go," Chief Executive Ozias Bvute said.
Image copyright AAMIR QURESHI, AFP
Image caption Six years of not playing at home has meant that Pakistani players such as Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal have made their international debuts overseas. Only five players in the Twenty20 squad - Shahid Afridi, Sarfraz Ahmed, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Sami and Shoaib Malik - have previously played in front of home fans.
Image copyright RAHAT DAR, EPA
Image caption The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has said that it hopes Zimbabwe's tour will be a launching pad for other teams to come to Pakistan - it says that invitations have already been sent to regional rivals India and Bangladesh.
Image copyright SHAHZAIB AKBER, EPA
Image caption The match is going ahead despite continuing insecurity in Pakistan. On Thursday two men appeared in court accused of opening fire on a bus in the city of Karachi. At least 45 people of the minority Shia community were killed.

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