ICC World T20: Pakistan Team Finally Arrives in India, Shahid Afridi Hopes For Fresh Start

Shahid Afridi waves at the crowd after arriving in Kolkata for the World T20.

© PTI

Kolkata: Pakistan cricket team, after getting clearance from the country’s government, finally arrived in Kolkata for the ICC World T20 on Saturday. Their first match is on Wednesday, against one of the qualifiers. (T20 World Cup: Pakistan, Happy With ‘Solid’ Assurance, To Reach Kolkata on Saturday)

The Shahid Afridi-led side’s participation was under cloud after the Pakistan government deferred their departure, owing to security threats. Protests in Himachal Pradesh even led to the shifting of Pakistan’s March 19 match with India from Dharamsala to Kolkata. (World T20: Rajnath Singh Allays Pakistan Cricket Team’s Fears)

Afridi tweeted on Friday that his team is ready to overcome the failure of Asia Cup, where they failed to qualify for the final. (World T20: Pakistan Players Were Given Option of Pulling Out, Reveals Shahryar Khan)

The 27-member Pakistan cricket contingent arrived in the city from Abu Dhabi. The Pakistan contingent comprising 15 players, 12 officials and support staff reached the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport at 7:55 pm. (World T20: Last Chance For Shahid Afridi to Win a Major Trophy, Says Waqar Younis)

Hundreds of fans gathered at the airport to welcome the Pakistan team as Shahid Afridi and his players came out of the airport. The Pakistani skipper reciprocated the warm gestures, waving at the crowd before leading his teammates into two buses as they went straight to the team hotel.

It took about an hour for the Pakistan players to clear their immigration formalities before they finally came out of the airport to the loud cheers of the fans gathered there. Some fans were also heard shouting ‘Three cheers for India’.

There were tight security arrangements for the Pakistani contingent with hundreds of security personnel from CISF and black commandos maintaining a vigil as the players landed at the airport.

The Pakistan contingent includes manager Intikhab Alam, the experienced former Test captain and a high profile security manager.

Pakistan High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit welcomed the cricket team on their arrival here. “Welcome to India Team Pakistan, play your best and the cup is ours, we will be in Kolkata to cheer you up,” he tweeted.

Women’s team also in India

The Pakistan women’s team also landed in Chennai on Saturday to the take part in the Women’s World T20.

Due to the delay in their arrival, the Pakistan men’s team has missed out on a warm-up match against Bengal which was scheduled for Friday. They will now play a practice game against Sri Lanka here on Monday.

Their first match of the main tournament will be held at Eden Gardens on March 16 against a qualifier team, followed by the marquee clash against arch-rival India at the same venue on March 19.

They will then take on New Zealand (March 22) and Australia (March 25) in their remaining Group B matches — both in Mohali.

The Pakistan team was to fly out on Wednesday but the government put their departure on hold, citing security concerns. On Thursday, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan ruled out sending the team until special security assurances were met from India.

The matter was solved following security assurances from the Indian government.


Source: NDTV

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