LAHORE: The cricket teams of Pakistan and Sri Lanka arrived here in the wee hours of Sunday morning amid tight security, set to play the third and final match of the Twenty20 Internation (T20I) series later today in a historical moment for the nation.
Both teams safely reached their hotel from Allama Iqbal International Airport, escorted by security officials and police.
Led by all-rounder Thisara Perera after Upal Tharanga pulled out of the fixture, the Sri Lankan team departed from Abu Dhabi at 10 PM and landed in the city at 2:25 AM.
Pakistan’s squad, on the other hand, left Dubai via a different flight and reached Lahore at 1:50 AM.
The Green Shirts are already leading the T20I series with 2-0, having emerged victorious against Sri Lanka by seven wickets in the opening game and winning a last-ball thriller in the second one.
Sunday’s game will mark the homecoming of top-level international cricket as Sri Lanka becomes the first major cricket team to visit Pakistan since they were targeted in a deadly ambush back in 2009 — with attack survivors among those returning to the scene.
Tens of thousands of security personnel have been deployed in Lahore to guard routes to the stadium for the occasion, while air surveillance and intelligence monitoring is also in place as Pakistan rolls out head-of-state level measures.
—Additional reporting by Jaffar Hussain in Abu Dhabi, photographs by Faizan Lakhani in Lahore