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Pakistan hosts biggest cricket game in years amid tight security – [IMAGES]

(UDHAYAM, LAHORE) – Pakistan staged its largest cricket game in eight years in Lahore on Sunday, amid an enormous security operation.

Eight people died in a 2009 militant attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore, which ended international cricket tours to Pakistan.

But Sunday’s test of a major match – the Pakistan Super League Twenty20 final – ended without incident.

Thousands of troops, backed by air support, patrolled the area.

Since the 2009 attacks, Pakistan has played its home games in other venues, such as the United Arab Emirates, as foreign teams refused to tour the country.

A rare exception in 2015, with the Zimbabwean team, was marred by a fatal suicide bombing outside the Lahore stadium.

[ot-caption title=”Strict security around the stadium led to hours-long lines” url=””]

Even the Pakistan Super League itself – which drafts foreign players – has been played in UAE, with Sunday’s final being its first true home game.

Several international players dropped out of Sunday’s final over security fears.

But among those who chose to play was West Indian Darren Sammy, who led Peshawar Zalmi to victory.

Sammy’s fellow West Indian, Marlon Samuels, and Englishmen Chris Jordan and Dawid Malan also played.

[ot-caption title=”Darren Sammy wears a traditional turban at Gaddafi stadium in Lahore” url=””]

Security clearance for the final was only approved days beforehand.

But the success of Sunday’s game may also have lasting effects for Pakistan’s cricket fixtures.

Several officials – including from the International Cricket Council – attended the game to see the security measures for themselves.

The Pakistan Cricket Board is rumoured to be in talks with officials from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh about the possibility of touring Pakistan later in 2017.

[ot-caption title=”Fans of the sport were acutely aware of the wider importance of the game” url=””]

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