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Sri Lankan Cricket Team In Pakistan, Eight Years After Attack

A Pakistani cricket fan buy ticket for the last T20 cricket match to be played between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
A Pakistani cricket fan buy ticket for the last T20 cricket match to be played between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Security was tight as Sri Lanka's cricket squad arrived in Lahore to play the final of a three-match series, eight years after its players and team officials were attacked by terrorists in the city.

Accompanied by hundreds of security guards, Sri Lankan players and team officials were taken to their hotel in a bomb-proof bus ahead of their match scheduled for later on October 29 at Gaddafi Stadium.

The event follows a match in September, also conducted under heavy security, at the same stadium between the Pakistani team and the World XI squad featuring members from several cricket-playing nations.

The matches are part of Pakistan’s effort to showcase its capabilities and return to world-class cricket competition after the devastating 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore.

Eight people -- six police officers and two civilians -- were killed and seven players and staff were injured in that attack.

The Pakistani team had been forced to play most of its "home" games in the United Arab Emirates after foreign teams avoided the country over security concerns.

Sri Lanka is the first major squad to visit the country since the incident, although several players and officials -- including survivors of the 2009 attack -- declined to attend because of security concerns.

Nevertheless, Sri Lanka’s Thisara Perera said he was happy to be in the country.

"It's nice to be in Pakistan again," said Perera, who was part of the World XI team that competed in September.

"We are thankful for a warm welcome and will do our best to entertain the crowd with some good cricket."

Authorities said several thousand security officials will be on duty for the match, with military personnel guarding the stadium and the streets leading to the hotel.

Fans entering the stadium will go through various check points and body searches.

The Pakistan Cricket Board has said it hopes a safe tour by Sri Lanka will help persuade the West Indies squad to visit for a three-match series next month.

With reporting by AFP and AP
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