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Excitement high as World XI series to begin today in Lahore

LAHORE -UNS: Pakistan XI are all excited and raring to take on the World XI in the opener of Independece Day being played this evening in Lahore’s Qaddafi stadium.

A World XI squad comprising 14 players from eight top cricket-playing nations landed in Lahore early Monday amid massive security, with Pakistan hoping the tour will end years of international isolation.

Pakistan has not hosted top-level international cricket — barring five limited over matches against minnows Zimbabwe in 2015 — since the Sri Lankan team bus was attacked by terrorists in March 2009, killing eight people and injuring seven players and staff.

The World XI, which will play three Twenty20 internationals from Tuesday, arrived around 2:00am Pakistan time (2100 GMT) with air surveillance and dozens of police vans in attendance as the team was whisked to their hotel.

Both the hotel and stadium will be cordoned off with 9,000 police and paramilitary staff deployed during the next five days.

The World XI is led by South African skipper Faf du Plessis and coached by former Zimbabwe batsman and ex-England coach Andy Flower.

A fourteenth player, Samuel Badree of the West Indies, has arrived belatedly.

Earlier on Sunday Malik Mohammad Khan, a spokesperson for the government of Punjab province, of which Lahore is the capital, said authorities were providing “foolproof security for the World XI with a big contingent of security officials deployed”.

Parts of the city near the stadium will be cordoned off, with shops and restaurants around the venue to be shut for the duration of the series while spectators will have to pass through multiple security checkpoints.

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