ID :
Thu, 06/19/2008 - 12:17
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Sports Cricket ICC President Mali cheers Pakistan influence

Lahore, June 19 (PPI) - International Cricket Council President Ray Mali hailed Pakistan as `a great host to a great tournament'' as he began countdown to this year's ICC Champions Trophy.
"Pakistan has venues, of course, but more importantly, it also has passion to do real justice to what we at ICC believe will be a superb event," he said at the tournament's launch Wednesday in Lahore.
"We all know just how important the game of cricket is to countless numbers of people in this country - and come September whole world will get chance to see Pakistan's love of and hunger for game first hand. Pakistan is going to be a great host to a great tournament," Mali added.
Dr Nasim Ashraf, Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board, was equally enthusiastic at prospect of hosting tournament, first time Pakistan staged ICC event since 1996 when it acted as joint hosts of World Cup alongside India & Sri Lanka.
"We are absolutely thrilled and delighted at hosting ICC Champions Trophy which is the second most important tournament after ICC Cricket World Cup," he said.
"And with this being first ICC event to be held in Pakistan for 12 years, we are excited and committed to making it best-ever for participating teams as well as for all spectators who will be travelling to Pakistan in September.
"This prestigious tournament will provide excellent opportunity to Pakistan to show its passion for cricket and will also give opportunity to show our traditional hospitality," Dr Ashraf said.
Mali said "this tournament will also play a vital role in contributing to Pakistan's development programme which is already finding its feet. With the tournament to be played under a new and exciting format, I have no doubt it will go down in history as one of the most keenly and fiercely contested events.
"Besides being short and sharp format, tournament had plenty of exciting features that made it one of most eagerly-awaited and keenly-contested competitions.
"I believe Pakistan's love of game will help to make this best-ever ICC Champions Trophy - but there are other reasons for me believing that, when we will look back on September's action, we will do so with real joy.
"The eight teams taking part are from five different continents, a great illustration of game's diversity. At a time when there are so many negatives in the world, cricket really is a lesson in how people can come together," Mali added.
The teams for this year's tournament have been divided into two groups. Group A includes defending champions Australia, India, Pakistan & West Indies while South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka & England are in Group B.
Each side plays all other sides in its group and top two teams from each group progress to semi-finals with top side from Group A playing second placed side from Group B, second-placed side from Group A playing top side from Group B. Final will be at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, which also hosted final of World Cup in 1996. Other
venues, Karachi & Rawalpindi will each host a semi-final.