Tight security around Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Hyderabad as Pakistan cricket team begins practice session

Pakistan’s Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi arrive for ICC Cricket World Cup at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, in Hyderabad, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023.

Pakistan’s Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi arrive for ICC Cricket World Cup at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, in Hyderabad, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023.
| Photo Credit: PTI

It was business straight away for the Babar Azam-led Pakistan cricket team which landed yesterday as the players indulged in a two-hour practice session at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Thursday, September 28, 2023.

Amidst unprecedented security measures in place in and around the stadium, the Pakistan team trooped into the stadium on Thursday morning around 9.00 am.

The team first had a warm-up session followed by a fielding session before going into serious ‘net practice’.

The team also got a feel of the venue and more importantly the pitches too and apparently expressed satisfaction with the facilities and the playing conditions ahead of its World Cup campaign.

In fact, the media was not in the know of things about either Pakistan’s team practice or of the Kiwis in the morning..

Apparently, the security agencies didn’t want to take any risk as today also happened to be the Ganesh Visarjan in the city and also the practice sessions were planned early in the morning to avoid any inconvenience because of the Lord Ganesh idols procession later in the day , a senior HCA official said.

For the record, Pakistan will play two warm-up games – one against New Zealand on September 29 and another one against Australia on October 3.

By all means, it was a remarkable job by the Hyderabad Cricket Association officials, monitored on a day-to-day basis personally by K. Durga Prasad, who is assisting the Supreme Court Judge Justice (Retd) L. Nageshwara Rao in ending the ‘impasse’ in the HCA, to ensure that everything was in place for the teams playing here.

The new-look Rajiv Gandhi Stadium and the lush green outfield which resembled a billiards table is a testimony to the kind of efforts the groundstaff headed by Y.L. Chandrasekhar, assisted by Mukesh Kumar and the others.

To clash with The Netherlands, Sri Lanka

The first World Cup game for Pakistan is on October 6 against The Netherlands and the second match here against Sri Lanka on October 10 before the team flies to Ahmedabad to take on arch-rivals India in Ahmedabad on October 14.

It was obvious that the Pakistan team members were visibly delighted at the smooth process of their arrival at the Rajiv Gandhi Airport on Wednesday night and their journey to the hotel amidst the expected security arrangements.

“Overwhelmed with the love and support here in Hyderabad,” Azam posted on his Instagram handle. A similar opinion was echoed by wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammed Rizwan. “Amazing reception from the people here (Hyderabad). Everything is super smooth. Looking forward to the next one-and-a-half months,” Rizwan said.

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