LAHORE: Former South African captain AB de Villiers has confirmed that he will tour Pakistan as part of Lahore Qalandars for Pakistan Super League (PSL) fixtures scheduled at the Gaddafi Stadium.
Celebrated former Proteas batsman, who is making his PSL debut from the platform of Lahore Qalandars in PSL 4, announced his confirmation a day after The Sunday Morning Herald confirmed that Australia will not visit Pakistan for a one-day series scheduled to be held in March-April.
In a video message, de Villiers said that “I am coming to Lahore [mein Lahore aa raha hoon].”
The Fawad Rana-owned franchised was massively reported everywhere in November when it bought de Villiers in the PSL Draft 2018.
“I am delighted to confirm that I will represent Lahore Qalandars in front of our home crowds on 9 and 10 March, during the PSL 2019,” psl-t20 quoted de Villiers as saying.
“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,” he added.
Islamabad United and Lahore Qalandars will take on each other in the opening game on February 14 in Dubai.
In the Pakistan-leg of the tournament, Lahore will host Lahore Qalandars against Islamabad United on March 9, Lahore Qalandars vs the Sixth Team on March 10 and Eliminator 1 (3 v 4) on March 12 at Gaddafi stadium. All the three matches will be played under floodlights.
De Villiers’s only previous visit to Lahore was in 2007. In the drawn Test that October, he had scored 45 and eight not out, but returned later in the same month to score 103 not out, 35 and 17 in the first, second and fifth ODIs, respectively.
“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,” de Villiers said.
In a press release, Fawad Rana said that “there can’t be bigger and better news for Pakistan cricket fans and the PSL 2019 on the day we are celebrating ‘one month to go’ that AB de Villiers has confirmed his availability for the two Lahore matches”.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chief Ehsan Mani also expressed his delight over the announcement and said that “we appreciate the decision of AB de Villiers and look forward to welcoming him to the home of Pakistan cricket. I am sure de Villiers’s appearance will attract new fans, and more eyeballs will follow the PSL than ever before.
Lahore Qalandars captain Mohammad Hafeez also lauded de Villiers’ decision. “De Villiers is one of the most respected cricketers in the world. He is a proven performer, who has added new dimensions to batting in white-ball cricket.
It is interesting to note that following the PSL 4 draft in November, de Villiers refused to participate in the Pakistan-leg of the event citing “prior commitments”.