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Cricket in Pakistan is a religion: Collingwood
Paul Collingwood, at 41, believes that there is a lot of passion and undying spirit among cricket fans in Pakistan, and is eager to claim a spot in the playing eleven for the next two games in the Independence Cup. Speaking at the post-match press conference on Tuesday (12 September), the Englishman said that he “Felt like a kid at Christmas.” I’m 41 years old and to actually have the feeling of being in a Twenty20 International again is something I am very excited about,” he added. Whilst recollecting some of his favorite memories in Pakistan, Collingwood mentioned: “The last time I came to Pakistan, I understood that cricket in Pakistan is a religion. The passion and the atmosphere that you create in the ground is something special. I experienced that certainly in Karachi in 2005 and certainly tonight was a great start to, hopefully, a series that we can still win. So I am very much looking forward to playing in the game.” Regarded as one of England’s best fielder ever, the Durham man wasn’t shy of admitting that he had butterflies in his stomach playing international cricket after a gap of nearly five years. “I am very proud, I can tell you right now. I came out of the net session yesterday and it felt like I was playing international cricket again. That, to me, when I retired back in 2011 and to have that same feeling again, that anxiety and that intensity and all those things when you play for your country and they all come back again, so I am very excited about playing.” The atmosphere at Lahore during the first T20I was abuzz with crowd – which Collingwood cited as a “small stepping stone for future cricket in Pakistan.” “I think the intensity was there. Obviously, the crowd wasn’t 100% capacity but the noise they make, you can just sense in the ground that they were really enjoying Pakistan playing the game in their own country and you can sense something special. The way the World XI was received in the ground and on social media by a cricket-loving nation has been superb and to feel that atmosphere again. Hopefully this is a small stepping stone for future cricket in Pakistan.” The World XI suffered a 20-run loss against Pakistan in the first T20I with 4 of the top 5 batsmen failing to convert starts. Collingwood also emphasized on the fact that the bowlers would need to adjust to the conditions accordingly. “We will look for a quick turnaround. Obviously, 24 hours between games. We will learn from tonight’s game, the wicket and conditions and what kind of bowling especially works on this pitch so we will bring that tomorrow. “You know, when a World XI comes together, it takes some time to know each other and certainly Faf understands the players’ role in the team, what kind of tactics he is going to use when players are coming on to bowl. It’s not to going to gel immediately, so hopefully after today’s game we will take a little bit of information out of the game and we can use that in the next game to have a better performance,” he further noted. Pakistan lead the series 1-0 with the second and third T20I to be played on September 13 and 15 respectively.