Kumar Sangakkara, survivor of Sri Lanka team bus attack in Lahore, not ruling out return if Karachi make PSL final

“Cricket going back to Pakistan is a fantastic thing. People there are starved of watching their national team, and other international cricketers coming and playing," said the Sri Lankan great of the March 5 finale.

Kumara Sangakkara of the Karachi Kings during a practice match at the ICC Academy in Dubai. Satish Kumar / The National
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DUBAI // Kumar Sangakkara, the new captain of Karachi Kings, has not ruled out travelling to Lahore if they reach the final of the Pakistan Super League, and says the idea of playing the match there is “fantastic” for the game.

Of all the players in the PSL, Sangakkara and his Karachi teammate Mahela Jayawardene have the biggest reason to feel unwilling to return to play the March 5 finale.

The duo were on the bus, along with their Sri Lanka national team colleagues, that was attacked en route from their hotel to a Test match against Pakistan at the Qaddafi Stadium in Lahore in 2009.

The final of the second season of the PSL is scheduled to take place at the same ground, almost exactly eight years to the day since the incident which led Pakistan into international cricket exile.

Sangakkara said his Kings side are solely focused on performing well in the matches in Dubai and Sharjah at present, though.


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“You have to first make the final, which we hope to do,” Sangakkara said, ahead of his new side’s opening fixture, against Peshawar Zalmi at Dubai International Stadium on Friday.

“Cricket going back to Pakistan is a fantastic thing. People there are starved of watching their national team, and other international cricketers coming and playing.

“That can be a hindrance to inspiring a whole generation to taking up this game.

“It is a fantastic idea, and players, as they go along, will weigh out the options and make that decision.

“But it is far too early to talk about it now. I think everyone is giving themselves the time.

“There have been a lot of good talks that have been had.

“This is going to be a great tournament. We want to make those decisions once we know where we are in this tournament.”

If such a decision is going to have to be made at all, Karachi will have to improve markedly on their performance in their inaugural PSL campaign 12 months ago.

The Kings finished level on points with last-placed Lahore Qalandars last year, after winning just two of their eight matches.

In a bid to improve their prospects this time around, they brought in Sangakkara to lead, after the former Sri Lanka captain had spells first in the rival Masters Champions League last season, then with PSL franchise Quetta Gladiators.

The Kings also made the headline off-season trade by signing Chris Gayle from Lahore.

Sangakkara said marrying new players together into a cohesive unit will “not be hard to do”, and he said Gayle set will set a fine example for the young Pakistani players to follow.

“We don’t have big egos in this team,” Sangakkara said.

“Chris has this reputation of being the ‘Universe Boss’, but he is such a humble, great guy.

“His outside persona is so different to what I see in the team.

“He is so committed, so serious about his role in the side, and he holds himself responsible for everything that he does.

“You see those examples and the young guys learn off that.

“My job is to ensure I play well first of all, I captain well on the field, and then I set an example where there are 11 blokes going out there thinking like leaders. That is not hard to do.”

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