Former South Africa captain AB de Villiers has confirmed that he will feature in Lahore Qalandars’ back-to-back matches at the iconic Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore in March.
In a messages released by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), former Proteas captain said, “I am delighted to confirm that I will represent Lahore Qalandars in front of our home crowds on March 9 and 10, during the HBL PSL 2019,”
He added: “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.”
The 34-year-old only visited Lahore once in 2007 where he played a Test and two ODIs and scored a brilliant century as well.
“I am fully aware that cricket is like a second religion in Pakistan,” said De Villiers. “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.”
De Villiers, who is also known as Mr. 360, will be the sixth South African cricketer to visit Lahore in less than 18 months.
In September 2017, current South Africa captain Faf du Plessis led the ICC World XI which also consisted of veteran right-handed batsman Hashim Amla, left-hander David Miller, pacer Morne Morkel and leg-spinner Imran Tahir. Pakistan won the three-T20I series 2-1.
De Villiers also confirmed that he will not going to travel to Karachi because of family commitments.
“Due to prior family commitments, I will only be available till the last group stage game,” he said. “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.”
Lahore Qalandars’ owner Fawad Rana also welcomed De Villiers’ statement by saying: “There can’t be a bigger and better news for Pakistan cricket fans and the HBL PSL 2019 on the day we are celebrating ‘one month to go’ that AB de Villiers has confirmed his availability for the two Lahore matches. He is one of the icons in international cricket who has entertained his fans worldwide, not only with his innovative and aggressive batting but also with the flare, passion and agility that he always carries with him onto the field of play. I am certain he will further brighten the Gaddafi Stadium with his amazing talent and skills on 9 and 10 March and this good news is a gift for our Qalandars clan.”
Meanwhile, PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani also appreciated the news by saying: “We appreciate the decision of De Villiers and looking forward to welcoming him to the home of Pakistan cricket. I am sure his appearance will attract new fans, and more eyeballs will follow the HBL PSL than ever before. I am confident that De Villiers’s decision to play in Lahore will encourage other leading cricketers and international sides to visit this cricket-passionate country. For the Lahore crowds, it will be a great opportunity to watch this generation’s cricket genius live in action. I am sure they will turn up in great numbers to support De Villiers as well as Lahore Qalandars and their opponents.”
The Qalandars captain Mohammad Hafeez also praised De Villiers’ decision and said: “De Villiers is one of the most respected cricketers in the world. He is a proven performer who has added new dimensions to batting in white-ball cricket. Not just me but the entire Lahore Qalandars side will wait eagerly for the unique experience of sharing with him a flight to Lahore and then being in the same team kit in front of what I envisage will be a packed house. This will again be an opportunity for the Lahore crowds to show their passion, respect, love and hospitality and I am confident that AB will take home memories which will bring him back again and again to this beautiful piece of land.”