'Players considered abandoning Pak tour'

HARARE - Zimbabwe’s cricket team was rattled by the terrorist attack at Gaddaffi Stadium that killed two people, so much they considered abandoning the tour before its conclusion, batsman Sikandar Raza has revealed.

Speaking in an interview with PakPassion.net, the 29-year-old top order batsman said Zimbabwe was close to “coming back home” but choose to stay for the final One Day International to foster relations between the two countries.

A day-night match between Pakistan and Zimbabwe was underway when a police sub-inspector and a Pakistani citizen were killed after suicide bomber blew himself up while riding a rickshaw.

The attempt to attack the Gaddafi Stadium was foiled by the gallantry of a police official, who lost his life, according to Pakistan’s Information minister Pervaiz Rashid.

Zimbabwe had become the first Test-playing nation to tour the country following the gun attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2006 which left seven people dead.

“The fact is we weren’t sure about what had happened,” Raza said. “We were initially told that it was a gas cylinder which had exploded but regardless of the actual reason and given the recent history of such incidents in Pakistan, we were quite close to coming back to Zimbabwe.

“But then we sat down together as a team and considered the fact that there were thousands of people in the stadium and a huge number of Army personnel guarding the area. The blast took place about 2 km away from us which is the start of the ‘red zone’.

“Did we really want to overreact and walk away from this? We were here to build relations with our Pakistan brothers and also encourage more tours between our countries, did we want to throw that away?

“Believe me the unanimous answer was NO! We decided to honour our commitment and play the final ODI and finish the tour as planned. There was no further discussion or doubts expressed after that point.”

The Pakistan born cricketer said he would be the first to put his hand up for selection if another Pakistan tour came along.

“Without taking away the credit from my fellow team members, when we were voting about going on tour to Pakistan then it is quite safe to say that what I said made a big difference in the final decision,” he said.

“If I had said I don’t want to go to Pakistan then the others would have said, ‘Look this guy is from Pakistan and he doesn’t want to go so why should we risk it?’

“So my view on this matter is clear. Simply put, I cannot really speak for others but if I am given another opportunity to tour Pakistan with the Zimbabwe team in the future, then I will be the first one to raise my hand and say to my team members that, yes, I am going there but the decision is ultimately yours.”

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