LAHORE: Former South African cricket captain AB de Villiers decision to return to Lahore for the HBL Pakistan Super League’s fourth edition in 2019 has been welcomed by his former international colleagues.
De Villiers’s long-time team-mate JP Duminy hoped his former captain will enjoy Lahore as the public sentiment and passion for the game has increased substantially since South Africa last toured in 2007.
“I am delighted that AB has decided to play Lahore Qalandars’ back-to-back matches at the Gaddafi Stadium on 9 and 10 March. I am sure when he takes the field, he will be amazed to see the electric atmosphere, passion and excitement in the crowds,” said Duminy, who captained Islamabad United in their triumphant HBL PSL 2018 final in Karachi.
Duminy will miss this year’s event as he is recovering from an injury, something that has also kept him away from the ongoing series against Pakistan.
“The March visit will also allow AB to sense the status and respect he commands in this part of the world, as well as the impact he has made on Pakistan cricket. These people love cricket and have tremendous respect for high-performing cricketers like AB,” he said adding, “The HBL PSL is a tournament which is growing fast, and with its successful staging in Pakistan, prospects of international cricket returning to the country have also brightened.”
“I am sure when AB will look back at his glittering and marvellous career, he will say with pride and satisfaction that he also played a part in the revival of international cricket in Pakistan.”
England’s white-ball specialist fast bowler Chris Jordan, who will again represent Peshawar Zalmi, also backed AB, when he said: “I am glad AB de Villiers was able to make this decision of touring Pakistan.
“The love and appreciation that we received when we played in Lahore and Karachi was beyond amazing, Pakistani fans just love their cricket and to be able to experience that is something I cherish till date and look forward to this year as well. I am sure AB will have a very similar experience,” said the pace bowler.
“When you play in Pakistan, it just puts into perspective what an entire generation of their fans has missed out on and, seeing how the fans are reacting to this news, clearly it means a lot to them that AB will be playing in front of them. AB de Villiers is a great addition to this group of international cricketers who want to see international cricket return to Pakistan.”
The Windies’ legend Daren Sammy, who played in de Villiers’s opposition in a number of international matches, hailed the South African’s decision, saying: “AB has entertained the world through his exploits. I am glad that he has decided to show his skills in Lahore, which I am sure will be hugely appreciated by the courteous and supportive Pakistan cricket fans.
“De Villiers is a champion cricketer and I am excited for the players who will get to experience playing in Lahore with him and for the thousands of crazy Pakistan cricket fans who, I am sure, will line-up in huge numbers to see AB play,” he said.
“I played in Lahore and Karachi in 2017 and 2018 and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The excitement and enthusiasm I saw in Lahore and Karachi was second to none and it just drives home the fact that this game is what it is because of these lovely fans,” said the Windies player.
“Sadly, I will not get a chance to play against AB in Lahore but I will be watching the match on the television and I am sure we will get to see some great cricket,” he added.
In a fitting start to de Villiers’s PSL career, he will feature in the HBL PSL 2019 debut match on 14 February against defending champions Islamabad United in Dubai. The tournament will culminate with the final in Karachi on 17 March.
For the first time in the history of the HBL PSL, eight matches will be played in Pakistan – three in Lahore and five in Karachi. In 2018, two matches were played in Lahore and the final in Karachi, while Lahore staged the only match (final) in 2017. The entire 2016 tournament was played in the United Arab Emirates.