AB de Villiers agrees to play cricket in Pakistan

AB de Villiers has confirmed that he will play for the Lahore Qalanders in their two home games at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore in this season’s Pakistan Super League (PSL).

The fourth edition of the PSL will take place in the UAE from 14 February until 17 March but some group matches will be staged in Pakistan, who currently do not host any international games due to security reasons.

The successful staging of the 2017 PSL final and two eliminators and then last year’s final in Pakistan has played an important role in helping convince international players that the Asian country is now a safe place to tour.

De Villiers who played in 114 Tests, 228 ODIs and 78 T20Is and is a global superstar, will play for the Qalanders in Lahore against Islamabad United and Multan Sultans on the 9th and 10th March.

The former Proteas captain said: “I am delighted to confirm that I will represent Lahore Qalandars in front of our home crowds on 9 and 10 March, during the HBL PSL 2019.

“I look forward to revisiting the Gaddafi Stadium and aim to play my part in helping Lahore Qalandars achieve something they have been aspiring for since the inception of this tournament in 2016.”

It will De Villiers’ first time playing cricket in Pakistan since he toured with the country with the Proteas in 2007.

On that particular tour, De Villiers, who retired from international cricket last year citing fatigue and wanting to spend more time with his family, played a Test and three ODIs at the Gaffafi Stadium.

The now 34 year-old De Villiers added that he felt he has a role to play in helping international cricket return to Pakistan.

He said: “I am fully aware that cricket is like a second religion in Pakistan. I still remember the support and appreciation we received in 2007.

“Furthermore, I feel I have a role to play in helping international cricket return to Pakistan. These have been some of the motivating factors for me to return to Lahore.

“I sympathise with the people of Pakistan because they have been cricket-starved for no fault of theirs, but I am optimistic that the days are not too far when international cricket will return to Pakistan and the stadia will once again be packed with crowds.

“Due to prior family commitments, I will only be available till the last group stage game. I want to thank Lahore Qalandars for giving me an opportunity to represent them and I look forward to not only enjoying my time in the HBL PSL 2019 but also contributing in making it a stronger brand.”

De Villiers will be the sixth South Africa cricketer to tour Lahore in less than last 18 months.

In September 2017, an ICC World XI side led by Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis – including Hashim Amla, David Miller, Morne Morkel, and Imran Tahir – toured Lahore for a three-match T20I series.