Lahore: Work is being sped up to get the Gaddafi Stadium here ready for the visit of Bangladesh later this month, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials say. Foreign teams have shunned Pakistan since the deadly militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus during the third Test in Lahore in March 2009, but on Sunday Bangladesh agreed to a two-match tour. "The preparation work is fast and we are ready to host Bangladesh," said PCB spokesman Nadeem Sarwar. "We have had a physical inspection of the Stadium today and are gearing up for Bangladesh matches."
Work has begun to clean the stands and replace broken seating, but with the security situation still volatile, measures to ensure player safety have taken precedence. PCB security manager Waseem Shahid said a complete plan for the arrangements will be submitted to the government for their approval. "We will send a security plan to the federal government and as per the ICC standards will put in place the best possible arrangements for the Bangladesh team," Shahid said.
When Bangladesh and Pakistan line up for their 50-over match at the Gaddafi Stadium on April 29, it will be the end of a 37-month gap in international cricket in Pakistan. Groundsman Haji Bashir, who has worked at the stadium since its inception 53 years ago, said he was thrilled at Bangladesh's visit. "I am delighted at the prospect of preparing pitches for the matches and it's great news for the nation that we will host international games again," the 73-year-old said.
The PCB is also leaving no stone unturned in providing the visitors an unprecedented security.
The Gaddafi Stadium, named after the former Libyan leader in 1974 - has been the focus of the cricketing world on numerous occasions. It was here that Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga lifted the trophy after their shock World Cup triumph in 1996, sparking wild celebrations on the island. But 13 years later, the Sri Lankan cricketers had to be airlifted in a helicopter after the horrifying terror attacks. Last year, the Pakistan government resisted calls from the world community to change the name of the Stadium after the autocratic rule of Libya's leader ended in a bloody revolution.