West Indies women’s team in Pakistan for cricket series

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The West Indies women’s team arrived in Karachi on Wednesday to play three Twenty20 matches as Pakistan once again bids to showcase its ability to host international cricket.

There was a heavy security presence between the airport and the team hotel, and traffic on one of Karachi’s busiest roads was halted while the visiting squad travelled through on bullet-proof buses.

“The security system is top class,” West Indies stand-in captain Merissa Aguilleira said. “There was security on both sides of the roads and these things show that everybody has put (security) things in place.”

A terrorist attack in March 2009 on the Sri Lanka test cricket team’s bus in Lahore killed six policeman and two civilians and injured six members of the touring group.

Pakistan has hosted only short limited-overs series against Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, a World XI and the West Indies since the attacks.

A women’s team from Bangladesh also toured Pakistan in October 2015 for a limited-overs series.

West Indies regular captain Stafanie Taylor is skipping the T20 matches this week in Karachi because of security concerns but will rejoin the squad for a series of three one-day internationals against Pakistan in Dubai next month.

“Of course we will always miss our skipper,” Aguielleira said. “But after all I think this is a good opportunity for the players to step up … I really believe in the potential of this team and we are willing to go forward and make sure go there and represent the people of the Caribbean to the best of our ability.”

The West Indies team was warmly received by the officials of the PCB before they were whisked from the airport in tight security.

Aguielleira said the security issue came up for discussion before the team travelled to Pakistan.

“Everyone had some issues about it, being honest, but after all collectively we joined together as a team,” she said. “We had discussion and we are happy to be here.”

The West Indies captain said she would have been “disappointed” had she not agreed to tour Pakistan despite Taylor showing her reservations to compete in Karachi.

“When I’m looking at it right now if I don’t come to Pakistan I would have been so disappointed,” she said with a smile. “Away from Pakistan you can be like, ‘There’s so much going on,’ but when you are here you just get lost in the moment so I really urge other teams to really come back to Pakistan because the people (in Pakistan) they love cricket and which is the most important.”