Kenyans arrive in Pakistan

2014-12-10 16:28

Lahore - The Kenyan cricket team arrived in Lahore amid tight security on Wednesday, becoming the first non-Asian visitors to militancy-wracked Pakistan for more than five years.

Kenya, who reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2003 but have since failed to emerge as a top-flight cricketing nation, are set to play five matches against a second-string Pakistani team.

International tours to Pakistan have been suspended since militants attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009, killing eight people and injuring seven visiting players.

Only neighbouring Afghanistan, who are facing their own Taliban insurgency, have visited the country in the interim, playing a short one-day series in 2011 and a Twenty20 against second-string team Pakistan A last month.

The Kenyan team bus was guarded by eight police vans and their route to National Cricket Academy, close to the headquarters of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) at Lahore's Gadaffi stadium, was cordoned off.

The visitors will stay in the Academy, which lies behind 14 giant gates, and will play all five one-day matches against Pakistan A at the same venue.

Kenya coach Steve Tikolo said his team wants to put all issues other than cricket aside.

"We want to forget all side issues," Tikolo, a former captain, told media.

"Politics and whatever other issues, we don't want to discuss. If you are a cricketer you just play cricket and we are here to play it and nothing else."

Tikolo added the tour could open the way for other countries to follow suit.

"Since we landed here this morning and up until now (the way) they looked after us has been great, to say the least. So I think other countries should also come and play cricket.

"If you want to move world cricket forward, this is what should be happening."

The Pakistan Cricket Board have made special security arrangements for the series, including shutting down businesses in the vicinity of the stadium for two weeks, though the games will be open to spectators.

The PCB's efforts to host Bangladesh failed twice in 2012 and 2013, with the team backing out over security fears.

Pakistan had also finalised a short limited-over series with Ireland in September this year but had to cancel it after a bloody attack on Karachi airport.

Kenya will play their matches on December 13, 15 16, 18 and 20.

Read more on:    kenya  |  cricket

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