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Cricket returns to Toronto

Cricket will return to Canada after a lapse of nine years with the inaugural 4-nation Al-Barakah Twenty20 International which explodes into action at King City ground from Friday.

Inaugural World Twenty20 Championship runners-up Pakistan and 2007 World Cup runners-up Sri Lanka in Caribbean, host Canada and Zimbabwe are taking part in the four-day competition which carries a handsome prize money of Canadian Dollar 100,000.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka are firm favorites for the crown and there was great enthusiasm among the expatriates from cricket playing nation for the event.

Sports International Marketing (SIM) with sponsorship from l-Barakah Group are holding the popular brand of twenty20 cricket in Canada.

Pakistan cricket team flew into the city here from Lahore after a tiring an 18-hours journey from Lahore after the final of RBS Twenty Cricket Championship at Gaddafi Stadium.

Sri Lanka will take on Zimbabwe in the morning session and Pakistan will be up against Canada in the afternoon match in opening day’s matches.

Shoaib Malik’s Pakistan team was accorded a warm welcome at the Pearson International Airport by the members of the organizing committee including famous Urdu cricket commentator Hasan Jalil on their arrival.

“We are tired with long flight but eagerly looking forward to the much needed international cricket,” Malik told waiting reporters at the airport. “Pakistan badly needed international cricket and it will be good opportunities for youngsters to prove their potential.

He said their main challenge for the title comes from Mahela Jayewardene’s experienced Sri Lanka team. However he admitted that even teams like Canada and Zimbabwe can prove dangerous in this exciting and dramatic.

Shoaib Malik refrained from commenting on the venue and playing conditions and new venue. “We hav n’t seen the venue so it is difficult to say any thing,” he said.

Previously the Sahara Cup and other event staged in Toronto were held in downtown’s Cricket, Skating and Curling Club.

Pakistan will be entering the event without much acclimatization as they have arrived here in the morning while Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka went through their second training session which.could benefiting for them.

Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson said like anybody else he was looking forward to the tournament and expressed the hope that his boys will carry forward their Twenty20 form here.

“We will have running session and light workout in the afternoon to get ready for our game against Canada,” he commented.

Pakistan express fast bowler Shoiab Akhtar will be returning to international cricket after almost ten months lay-off. Shoaib Akbtar, who led Rawalpindi in national twenty20 cup is also looking upbeat about the Toronto Twenty20.

Other star attraction would be Twenty20 International cricket highest wicket-taker Shahid Afridi with 15 wickets and Umar Gul’s 13 wickets and Misbah-ul-Haq Pakistan’s highest run-getter with 338 runs in ten matches in this version of cricket

Pakistan team got battery of six fast bowlers in their 15 including Sohail Tanvir, Sohail Khan, Abdur Rauf and newcomer Anwar Ali.

International Cricket Council (CC) has appointed former New Zealand Captain Jeff Crowe has been appointed Match Referees while the on-field umpires will be Mark Benson (England) and Karran Bayney (Canada) for quadrangular series.

After three-day league activity, top two teams will qualify for the final and two bottom placed teams will compete for playoff for third and fourth spot.

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