Pakistan players return to hostile reception

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Pakistani cricketers returned home to a heated reception on Wednesday, angry fans telling them to "go to hell". The team's outing in the West Indies had ended in tragedy, their first-round exit from the World Cup being followed by the murder of their coach Bob Woolmer.
Shahid Afridi, Danish Kaneria, Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Sami were heckled by a crowd of around 100 people after arriving at the Karachi international airport. The players were protected by dozens of policemen.

"Why have you come back?" one fan shouted while another supporter bellowed "Go to hell" at Afridi, according to a reporter. When Kaneria tried to leave the arrivals lounge the crowd shouted "Shame on you" and he went back inside, before asking for police protection to help him leave.

Afridi said that all the Pakistani players were feeling "disturbed" after the events of the past two weeks. "The police did ask us a few questions but these were normal inquiries," said Afridi. "We have been asked by the PCB [Pakistan Cricket Board] not to speak much on the issue. Just pray for us."

Inzamam-ul-Haq and several other squad members arrived in Lahore but were driven out of the airport's cargo section to avoid waiting reporters and fans. "We didn't want to hurt them, we just wanted to vent our frustration," said one fan after finding out that the players had eluded them.

Pakistani police had pledged to protect the players if necessary. "We are deploying police at the airport. We will not allow people to go near the players," Malik Iqbal, the Lahore police chief, told reporter. "The players will be provided with mobile police escorts as well."

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Will Pakistan Premier League gain success just like Indian Premier League ?