KARACHI (Reuters) - Kenya’s national cricket team arrived in Lahore amid tight security on Wednesday for the most high-profile series in Pakistan since a March 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka team.
The Kenyan players and officials were whisked away under police escort to the National Cricket Academy adjacent to the Pakistan board headquarters at the Gaddafi stadium.
Kenya, who will play five one-day matches against a Pakistan A side, are only the second team to play international cricket in the country since tours were suspended after militants attacked the Sri Lankans in Lahore.
Six Pakistani policemen and a van driver were killed in that attack while some Sri Lanka players and a Pakistani umpire, Ahsan Raza, sustained injuries.
Although Afghanistan have played a couple of low profile series in Pakistan since 2009, a senior PCB official told Reuters the Kenyan visit was much more significant.
"We are doing everything to ensure we don’t have a repeat of the 2009 incident. We are coordinating closely with the police and government to provide top security to the visitors," PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan said.
The Sri Lanka team was attacked while travelling by bus from their hotel to the Gaddafi stadium for a test match.
This time the PCB has housed the Kenya team at the NCA residential quarters.
With a bustling commercial food street operating outside the stadium, the board has even asked those businesses to close for two weeks.
Pakistan have had to play all their "home" games in the United Arab Emirates because of security concerns, losing out on significant revenues, but Khan hoped that would change.
"Once this tour goes smoothly then we will be in a position to start more concerted efforts to invite other teams to play in Pakistan," he said.
Kenya captain Shem Ngoche and coach Steve Tikolo told a news conference they were not worried about security.
"We have no apprehensions about playing in Pakistan. We know we will be taken good care off. This tour for us is all about cricket and gives us a great opportunity to give exposure to our new players," said Ngoche.
Kenya, once regulars at the ICC World Cup, have struggled in recent years and failed to qualify for the 2015 tournament. They play their opening game in Lahore on Dec 13.
(Editing by Alan Baldwin)
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