Lahore: Former England cricketer Paul Collingwood, who is keen on claiming a spot in the playing eleven in the final two games of the Independence Cup, believes that there is no dearth in passion or spirit among cricket fans in Pakistan.
Speaking at the post-match press conference in Lahore, the 41 year old 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.
Reflecting on his memories having played in Pakistan earlier, Collingwood said: "The last time I came to Pakistan, I understood that cricket is a religion here. The passion and the atmosphere that you get in the ground is something special. I experienced that 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 sharpest fielders, Collingwood admitted that he was nervous about playing international cricket after a gap of half a decade. "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 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 electric - 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 reception that was afforded to the World XI was at the ground and on social media by the cricket-loving nation has been excellent. Hopefully this is a small stepping stone for future cricket in Pakistan."
The World XI were handed a 20-run defeat against Pakistan in the first T20I with most of the top 5 batsmen failing to convert starts. Collingwood also impressed upon the fact that the bowlers would need to adjust to the conditions as soon as possible. "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.
Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shehzad, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed(w/c), Imad Wasim, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Sohail Khan, Usman Khan, Rumman Raees
World XI: Tamim Iqbal, Hashim Amla, Tim Paine(w), Faf du Plessis(c), David Miller, Paul Collingwood, Thisara Perera, Ben Cutting, Samuel Badree, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir