SPORT

Pakistan team whisked away from waiting fans

Plan changed due to security reasons

ISLAMABAD: Security concerns forced Pakistan’s Twenty20 World Cup-winning team being whisked away from disappointed waiting fans upon their return early on Tuesday.

Captain Younis Khan arrived separately from the rest of the team in Karachi. Geo Television showed a smiling Khan surrounded by fans and family members at the Karachi Airport and he was showered with rose petals.

Other team members arrived earlier in Lahore and officials drove them away amid tight security.

“We changed the plan due to security reasons and drove players and team officials in a bus to the National Cricket Academy,” police official Umar Virk told Aaj Television, without mentioning any specific threat to the team.

Fans started to gather at the Lahore airport hours ahead of the 3:30 a.m. arrival time after watching Pakistan win the T20 World Cup.

The excited fans — mostly youngsters — danced to the beat of drums and chanted slogans “Pakistan zindabad” (long live Pakistan) before they realised the cricketers had already left from another terminal.

Disappointed

“Our hearts are broken as we could not greet our heroes,” 20-year-old Danish Shams said. “We came here only to have a glimpse of them, but now the police officials are saying that they (players) have already left in a bus.”

Zeeshan Qaiser, another fan said he was “deeply hurt” after not getting to welcome any of the Pakistan team.

“Not only me, everyone who is present here is hurt,” he said. “We just wanted to have a glimpse of them, we are tired from shouting slogans in praise of them and now they didn’t show up.”

Younis Khan was able to soak up the adulation. He announced his retirement from Twenty20 after Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka by eight wickets in the final at Lord’s on Sunday. However, he will continue to lead Pakistan in Tests and One-Day Internationals.

“It was in my mind before going to the World Cup that if we win it and I gave a good performance I will retire from Twenty20 cricket,” Younis said.

The Pakistan captain defended his statement of terming Twenty20 cricket as “fun cricket” during the tournament. — AP