Ahead of Eng Tests, elite Pak sportspersons get behind Azhar Ali & Co.

Some of Pakistans greatest sport personalities have extended their support to the mens cricket team by wishing them luck for the three-match Test series in England, which begins next week.

Pakistan are scheduled to play three Tests and as many T20Is against England beginning August 5. The first Test between the two teams will be played in Manchester starting August 5 while the final two Tests are scheduled to be played in Southampton from August 13 and August 21 respectively.

The three T20Is, meanwhile, will be played at a single venue in Manchester on August 28, August 30 and September 1 respectively.

Renowned sportspersons recently participated in the 24th edition of the PCB Podcast to rally behind Azhar Ali’s side, which will be playing competitive cricket for the first time since March amid COVID-19 pandemic.

Jahangir Khan, 10-time British Open and six-time World Open squash champion, said: “I can imagine how difficult it must have been to prepare and remain focused during the COVID-19 pandemic. England series has always been tough and the absence of the supporters will add to the challenge. But, I am sure the team will play with a fighting spirit and return favourable results. I, along with fans, wish the team luck for this tour.”

Shahbaz Ahmed Snr, the 1992 Olympic bronze medalist and 1994 World Cup winner, said: “My wishes are with the team. Pakistan cricket has a huge fan following in the world and in the current scenario, when the masses are staying at home, the resumption of sports activities will provide great entertainment to the people.”

Aisam-ul-Haq, the only Pakistan tennis player to reach Grand Slam finals in the doubles events in 2010, said: “I am really excited for Pakistan’s upcoming series against England. I wish our boys in green all the best. I hope they play with a lot of passion and make us all proud.”

Kiran Khan, an Olympic swimmer who also won seven gold medals in the 2001 National Games, said: “Making a comeback in the game and expecting the same performance is not guaranteed after COVID-19 from any player. This is the time, when the fans need to come forward to encourage the players. I wish our team the best and urge the fans to support the team.”

Mohammad Asif, a two-time world snooker champion, said: “The revival of cricket sets stage for other sporting events to resume soon. I wish Pakistan cricket team all the best for their series against England. We are optimistic that this pandemic will end soon and look forward to represent our country again.”

Wrestler Inam Butt, who won the 2010 and 2018 Commonwealth Games gold, said: “During this pandemic, the Pakistan Cricket Board has taken a great initiative to send our cricket team to England. This series, during this challenging time, is no less than a gift for fans. My wishes are with the team and I urge fans to pray for their success.”

Saddam Hussain, captain of Pakistan men’s national football team, said: “This pandemic has affected people and sports badly. All sportsmen have to go through a difficult phase during this time. The Pakistan Cricket Board has taken a brilliant initiative to send the men’s team to England. My best wishes are with the team and I hope they perform well in the series. I wish and pray that other sports activities will resume in the country soon.”

Syeda Mahpara, Pakistan women’s national football team goalkeeper, said: “It is very difficult for any athlete to return to their 100 per cent right away after such a long gap. In this challenging time, I urge all cricket lovers to support our team so it boosts their morale. I wish all the best to the men in green.”

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