In a heartwarming gesture of sportsmanship, former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has praised Indian batting maestro Virat Kohli for his expressed willingness to visit Pakistan. Speaking at a tapeball event in Karachi, Afridi welcomed Kohli’s statement with open arms.

“I expected such a statement from Virat. He is a true ambassador of the game and his country. I welcome Virat, whether he comes to the PSL or with the Indian team,” Afridi remarked, expressing his appreciation for Kohli’s gesture.

Kohli’s interest in visiting Pakistan came to light during a video call with Pakistani mountaineer Shehroze Kashif in 2022.

During the call, Kohli expressed his desire to visit Pakistan, saying, “Give my regards to your family and all your friends. Hopefully, we will visit Pakistan soon; everyone’s started visiting now.”

This sentiment was echoed by Indian captain Rohit Sharma previously, who also expressed interest in playing a Test series against Pakistan.

Such statements from top Indian players highlight a positive step towards renewing cricketing relations between the two nations. However, India’s participation in next year’s Champions Trophy in Pakistan is still doubtful and subject to the government’s permission.

India last visited Pakistan in 2008 for the Asia Cup, which was also the last full tournament in Pakistan. Although, Pakistan hosted last year’s Asia Cup too, but due to India’s reluctance, the tournament was co-hosted by Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, Afridi also shared his thoughts on Pakistan’s current batting challenges, particularly the need for a strong opening batsman.

He identified Saim Ayub as a promising talent who could fill this crucial role. “Saim has a lot of talent. I hope he performs well. Pakistan needs a batter who can play well in the first six overs,” Afridi said.

Saim Ayub is currently in England with the Pakistan squad, where they are scheduled to play a four-match T20I series against the host nation, starting on May 22. This series will be a significant preparation for the team ahead of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024.

After the England series, the Pakistan team will head to the United States to participate in the World Cup. The 2009 champions will begin their campaign against co-host USA on June 4 before facing arch-rivals India on June 9.

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