Thousands of police and paramilitaries have been deployed and helicopters will be buzzing over Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium, which has been turned into a fortress for Friday’s Twenty20 cricket game against lowly Zimbabwe.
Authorities have mounted an unprecedented operation to guard insurgency-hit Pakistan’s first home international in six years.
The fixture is Pakistan’s first on home soil since 2009, when militants launched a gun attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore, killing eight police and civilians and leaving seven players wounded.
Roads around the stadium will be closed and shops and restaurants have been shuttered for the duration of the series, consisting of two Twenty20s and three ODIs, all in Lahore.
Jammers are in use to cut out radio signals, hampering wifi at the stadium, and fans will have to go through metal detectors at three security checkpoints, raising the prospect of hours of queuing.
Zimbabwe have been under tight wraps since their arrival early on Tuesday, when they were whisked from the airport to their hotel watched by thousands of security personnel.
They are far from the usual arrangements for a cricket match, and Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura said it was a new experience for him and his team.
Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi hoped the first ball on Friday will refocus attention on cricket as he attempts to lift his team after a poor World Cup and series in Bangladesh.
Despite the tight security and the late confirmation of the series, following a massacre in an attack on a bus in Karachi, organisers say the 27,000-capacity venue is a sell-out for Friday’s game.