Sport

"Heroes When They Play At Home": Shoaib Akhtar On Test Return In Pakistan

Pakistan are hosting Sri Lanka for a two-Test series, which started in Rawalpindi on Wednesday, to mark the return of Test cricket in the country after a gap of over 10 years. A militant attack on a touring Sri Lankan team in March 2009 had forced Pakistan into isolation from cricket and they had to host international team for bilateral series in the United Arab Emirates. Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who belongs to Rawalpindi, welcomed "Test cricket back to Pakistan", saying it will inspire the young generation to take up the sport.

"I welcome Test Cricket back to Pakistan. Specially, to my city Rawalpindi. When your players play at home, they become heroes, this is what inspires a young generation to take up a sport and idolize greatness," Shoaib Akhtar said on Twitter.

Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne won the toss and opted to bat against Pakistan in the first Test.

Karunaratne was one of the several players who opted out of Sri Lanka's limited-overs tour of Pakistan earlier in September.

After winning the toss, Karunaratne said he was keen to get the game underway. "We are all excited and once the game starts the focus will be on cricket," he said.

Pakistan captain Azhar Ali joined in, saying: "Of course, a historic day in Pakistan cricket and we all are excited."

"We want to make this occasion memorable by winning so all geared up," he added.

Interestingly, all the 15 Pakistani players who have been named in the Test squad are playing their first-ever Test match in front of their home spectators.