Shahid Afridi Ahmed Shehzad Pakistan
Pakistan will hope the first T20 international against Zimbabwe goes through without a hitchReuters

For the first time in a while "home" will actually mean home for Pakistan as they prepare to host Zimbabwe in a short series, starting with the 1st T20 International in Lahore on Friday.

Since the attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009, no Test-playing nation has toured Pakistan, with the cricketing giant forced to play their "home" series in the UAE.

With Zimbabwe desperate for some quality cricket and the revenue that comes with it, the Men in Green have finally found a team willing to play in Pakistan, despite all the security concerns still raised by the ICC.

Such is the problem that no ICC umpires or match referees will officiate during the two T20I and three ODI tour. However, despite all the security worries, if this series goes without a hitch, it will be a big step towards Pakistan finally hosting international series regularly.

"It will be an amazing feeling, it would mean so much to me," Umar Akmal, one of many Pakistan players set to play for the first time in front of their home crowd, told PakPassion. "Cricketers around the world take playing at home in front of their own crowds for granted.

"But unfortunately many of us Pakistani cricketers have never been able to play in our own conditions which is really tough. I know the people of Pakistan are really looking forward to the return of international cricket to Pakistan and so are the players."

There will be tension and plenty of nail-biting and "Man I seriously hope nothing goes wrong" before the start of the match, but once that white ball is delivered for the first time in the series, it will be back to business as usual, with both Pakistan and Zimbabwe looking to fine tune their side as much as possible ahead of the World T20 next year.

"I had requested the selectors to give me three to four new players for the series," Pakistan T20 captain Shahid Afridi said. "In the last three months of our preparation, I don't want to see changes in the team so that the same set of players go to the World T20, and their morale remains high.

"It's the selectors' responsibility. I don't want to interfere in their work. I want to work together with them and form a good team.

"When you are focusing on World T20, you have to do experiments. You try to work on weak areas to do well. It's good that the selection committee is doing its work. As a captain I will do my work, coaches will do their job. If we concentrate on our areas the results will be good."

Zimbabwe showed they are a team that cannot be taken lightly with some impressive performances in the World Cup 2015 in Australia and New Zealand, and while there have been plenty of changes made to the side since, chief of them being the retirement of Brendan Taylor, Pakistan will take them lightly at their own peril.

"I don't underestimate any team in the world especially, when you compete in Twenty20 format," Afridi added. "It's the best 14-15 selected. They are fighters and they will give good results."

Where to Watch Live

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Pakistan vs Zimbabwe is scheduled for a 7 pm local time (7.30 pm IST, 3 pm BST, 10 am ET) start with live TV coverage in India on Ten Cricket and Pakistan on Ten Sports and PTV Sports. The online live streaming option for India and Pakistan are on Ten Sports Live and PTV Sports Live.

Viewers in the US can catch the game live on Willow TV or via a live stream on Willow TV Online.

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