Pakistani fans rejoiced as their team defeated World XI 2-1 last night (September 15) in a three-match Twenty20 series (Independence Cup) which marked the return of international cricket to the nation. But some of the supporters were disappointed that no Indian cricketer was a part of the historic rubber at Lahore's Gadaffi Stadium.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) assembled a World XI, captained by South African Faf du Plessis for the three T20I contests. However, the line-up did not have a single Indian player.
Pakistan had not hosted Test sides after gunmen attacked Sri Lankan team bus in March 2009 when the players were on their way to play a Test at Gadaffi Stadium. Sri Lankan cricketers were injured in the attack.
India and Pakistan cricket teams are not involved in a bilateral series for a long time due to tensions between the neighbours across the border. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) needs government's clearance to play Pakistan.
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The teams meet only in ICC tournaments, the most recent one being the Champions Trophy in England where Pakistan defeated Virat Kohli-led side in the final.
Kohli, arguably the best batsman at the moment, has a legion of fans not only in India but all over the globe. It was evident when posters were seen in Lahore's stadium where fans displayed their love for the Delhi right-hander.
On Twitter, a Pakistani wrote, "Look not every Pakistani hates you Team #India We love you @imVkohli & @msdhoni from Pakistan. Please come play in your neighbor. #WorldXI." This was a caption for a picture which showed fans holding a poster that read, "Miss you MS Dhoni, Kohli. Play in Pakistan."
Kohli has never played in Pakistan and the fans are eagerly waiting to see him bat in their country. Pakistanis want to watch Kohli facing their best bowlers in their home conditions.
Dhoni, however, has previously played in Pakistan. When he had long hair, even the then President Pervez Musharraf had praised the Indian and told him not to cut his hair.
On India's tour to Pakistan in 2006, Dhoni was praised by Musharraf. After a match in Lahore when Dhoni impressed with the bat (46-ball 72) and India won, he had said, "A lot of placards in the crowd have suggested that you should get a haircut, but if you take my advice, you look good in this hairstyle."
It was not clear whether the ICC had approached BCCI to send its players for the three-match T20I series. Despite their busy international schedule, there were others, who are not in the national team, who could have played.
One of the Pakistani fans had a funny reason as to why Kohli was not playing in Pakistan. According to him, his mother did not give him permission.
Kohli and the Indian team will be involved in a five-match ODI series against Australia from tomorrow (September 17) in Chennai.
While players in the World XI were happy to have contributed to Pakistan's cricket by helping them bring back international action, India missed out. And the wait for Pakistanis to watch Kohli continues.