Former South Africa batsman AB de Villiers announced on Monday (14 January) that he will be playing last two league games of the upcoming season of Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Lahore for his side Lahore Qalandars. The two matches will take place on 9 and 10 March.
In November 2018, de Villiers had signed up to play only seven league games scheduled in UAE after Lahore Qalandars picked him in the draft. However, on Monday, he changed his plans and in a press release announced that he will be playing two games in Lahore before returning to South Africa to fulfill family commitments.
The press release read, "I am delighted to confirm that I will represent Lahore Qalandars in front of our home crowds on 9 and 10 March, during the HBL PSL 2019. I look forward to revisiting the Gaddafi Stadium and aim to play my part in helping Lahore Qalandars achieve something they have been aspiring for since the inception of this tournament in 2016.
Mr 360, as he is famously called in cricketing world, said that he wants to help in making international cricket return to Pakistan. After a terrorist attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in 2009, international teams have refused to tour Pakistan citing security reasons.
"I am fully aware that cricket is like a second religion in Pakistan. I still remember the support and appreciation we received in 2007. Furthermore, I feel I have a role to play in helping international cricket return to Pakistan. These have been some of the motivating factors for me to return to Lahore.
"I sympathise with the people of Pakistan because they have been cricket-starved for no fault of theirs, but I am optimistic that the days are not too far when international cricket will return to Pakistan and the stadia will once again be packed with crowds," said de Villiers. He is not the first South African player who has agreed to tour Pakistan. In 2017, Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir and David Miller toured Pakistan to play for World XI against the hosts in a T20I series. Du Plessis recently said that Pakistan tour in 2017 was an amazing experience. He said, "The security in Pakistan was amazing. As soon as we landed there, the security was like a Hollywood movie. There were snipers on the roof, bulletproof trucks and we even had to put masks on ourselves, it was amazing to experience that."
Faf du Plessis "The security in Pakistan was amazing. As soon as we landed there, the security was like a Hollywood movie. There were snipers on the roof, bulletproof trucks and we even had to put masks on ourselves, it was amazing to experience that" #Cricket — Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) January 13, 2019
PSL begins on 22 February, with the first match set to take place between Peshawar Zalmi and Multan Sultans.