Pakistan v SA

Smith feels for Pakistan fans

2010-11-01 17:02
Graeme Smith (Gallo Images)

Dubai - South African captain Graeme Smith on Monday said he felt for Pakistan cricket fans who have been deprived of watching action on their grounds because of security fears.

"Obviously, I feel for people in Pakistan who are fanatical about the game of cricket and it's sad that they are not being able to watch their team and foreign teams play on their home grounds," Smith said at a media conference.

Pakistan was forced to play their home series on neutral venues like the United Arab Emirates (UAE), England and New Zealand because of security fears in the country where the national military is fighting Taliban and Islamic militants.

International cricket has been suspended in Pakistan since terrorists' attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore last year, which left eight people killed besides injuring seven visiting players and their assistant coach.

Even before those attacks, foreign teams had been refusing to tour Pakistan because of the ongoing war against terror, started after the 9/11 attacks on the United States in 2001.

Despite the fears, South African toured Pakistan in 2003 and 2007 - memories of which are still fresh in Smith's mind.

"I have good memories of touring Pakistan," said Smith, who was captain on both the tours. "I remember that was the period when we had a good run of victories after winning Tests and one-day series in Pakistan."

Smith said he was happy that Pakistani fans were getting entertainment with the current series being played in the UAE.

"Of course, they are not getting to see their players on their grounds. I guess this is the nature of the world, but with cricket played here they (Pakistani fans) have been provided with some entertainment," said Smith, 29.

Smith praised the facilities at Abu Dhabi.

"The facilities at Abu Dhabi Stadium were fantastic and although the ground was a bit far from the city center, people came to support the teams which was a good thing," said Smith.

South Africa won the Twenty20 series last week before winning the first one-day by eight wickets - matches played in Abu Dhabi.

Pakistan won the second one-day by one wicket on Sunday to level the five-match series 1-1.

The series moves to Duabi with the third match to be played on Tuesday.

Smith hoped his side had learnt its lessons after the defeat in the second match.

Pakistani all-rounder Abdul Razzaq hit a match-winning century as Pakistan achieved a daunting 287-run target off the penultimate delivery of the match.

"I hope my team has learnt lessons after defeat in the second match. We want the team to be as versatile as possible and play with an open mind, especially in parts of the world you don't know," said Smith.

The teams play two Tests - one each in Dubai and Abu Dhabi - after the one-day series.

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