Leading Pakistan at home, skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed rates it among the highlights of his career at the international level. Sarfaraz's words came ahead of the ODI series against Sri Lanka that will be played in Karachi from September 27 onwards.
These will not only be the first ODIs that the historic National Stadium will host since January 2009 but also Pakistan's first 50-over assignment at home after the 2015 series versus Zimbabwe. The country has been left bereft of regular international cricket because of security concerns.
"Leading the Pakistan cricket team in a bilateral ODI series in front of my home crowd will be one of the highlights of my career," said Sarfaraz. "I can't wait for Friday, which will mark the memorable occasion, and I hope when I walk out, I have a full-house behind me, not only cheering me but both the sides."
"Fans are the lifeline for any sport as they are the driving force for any team or player. They give extra energy to the teams and help them produce their very best."
"History will be made on Friday when Karachi will host the first bilateral ODI series since January 2009," he added. "I request all local cricket fans to be part of history so that they can tell the next generation that they were at the National Stadium when an international series was played."
Head coach and chief selector, former skipper Misbah-ul-Haq also remembers vividly the last time ODIs were played in Karachi. "Friday's match will be an emotional one for me as I played at the National Stadium when it last staged an ODI, also against Sri Lanka. Ten years later, I will start my time as head coach of the Pakistan national cricket team, so the time has moved really fast," said Misbah.
"But one thing that stands firm is the history of Karachi crowds, which have always turned up in big numbers to support cricket. They have weathered all conditions and contributed in the success of international matches hosted at the National Stadium."
"As the national cricket team commences its 2019-20 international season in Karachi, I hope the crowds will once again be there to encourage us and help us do better," he added.
"No player or team can succeed without the support of its fans, and we look forward to them being behind us when we start a new era in Pakistan cricket."
(Inputs from cricbuzz)