LAHORE - The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) hopes Kenya's visit to Pakistan can serve as a step towards the resumption of international cricket in the country. Pakistan hasn't hosted a Test, ODI or T20 international since March 2009, when terrorists attacked Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore.

Kenya landed in Pakistan on December 10 with Steve Tikolo, their greatest player, now serving as their head coach. Kenya reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2003, but have fallen sharply since, to the extent that they lost their ODI status in January. They are bringing over a depleted side to Pakistan, without players such as Collins Obuya, Tanmay Mishra, Seren Waters and Irfan Karim.

There is a general feeling that Pakistan could have invited Afghanistan instead, with the prospect of more competitive cricket than a series against Kenya. For the PCB, though, the move to invite Kenya was as much about 'perception' as it was about competition.

Afghanistan have toured Pakistan recently, playing a short one-day series in 2011 and a T20 game against Pakistan A last month. Afghanistan's players have close ties to Pakistan, many of them having been born and raised in refugee camps in the outskirts of Peshawar. A couple of them even had their weddings in Peshawar.

Inviting a non-Asian team, in that context, is seen as making a little more of an impact on the international community's perception of Pakistan's ability and suitability to host international cricket. "It would be unfair in the extreme to assume that due attention is not being given to Afghanistan," Subhan Ahmed, the PCB's chief operating officer, told ESPNcricinfo. "We have signed and are implementing an elaborate MoU with the Afghanistan Cricket Board which facilitates and supports Afghan cricket in every which way. But Kenya's visit has its own importance because it is the first full non-Asian team to visit Pakistan after March 2009. This tour will help in changing the perception about security in Pakistan. We hope that tours by other full-member teams will follow after this."

Kenya's players and staff are ensconced within three tight security layers. Movement has been restricted between the Gaddafi Stadium and the National Cricket Academy with the entire area cordoned off from the general public, who have to take an alternate route to get to the venue.

"The purpose is to demonstrate that we have the will and resources to organize cricket befittingly," Subhan said. "It is to give the visitors the comfort of a secure environment. As we move forward, there will be relaxation at various levels in the security but it will be gradual and not immediate. That said, the perception that the Kenyans have been cooped up in a secure environment and just brought out for cricket over nearly two weeks is erroneous. On every free day, social activity and entertainment opportunities have been organised for the Kenyan squad. For instance, one day there is lunch at the governor's house, then there is a visit to an elite college, shopping, dinner in the old city and also a bonfire. I am positive that apart from good cricket, the Kenyans will take back home happy and fond memories of Lahore and our hospitality."

Till June this year, Pakistan had been pushing hard to invite the full members but toned down their expectations thereafter. The PCB began lobbying among the affiliate and associate countries instead. Ireland could have been the first team to visit Pakistan but an attack on the Karachi airport postponed their visit. Pakistan are presently in talks with a few cricket boards in Europe, with Netherlands among them. ESPNcricinfo understands the Dutch high commissioner is among the high-profile guests invited to the Gaddafi Stadium to witness the Kenya series.

"The revival of international cricket will be a slow process. Kenya's visit will definitely give other teams the confidence of sending their outfits here and fortify our claims of there being a sea change in the security situation," Subhan said. "Also, we are already in contact with a few other countries in this regard and we are expecting a positive outcome."