KARACHI: It was another day, but not just another day. It was another match, but not just another game of cricket.
Cricket returned to Karachi on Sunday with Islamabad United taking on Peshawar Zalmi in the final of the third edition of Pakistan Super League at Karachi’s national stadium.
It was the first top level game to be hosted in the country since Pakistan vs Sri Lanka Test match in Karachi. Although the match did not carry an international status, but that could not take away anything from the success of Pakistan Cricket Board in reviving international cricket in the country.
Excited and filled with emotions for cricket, fans queued up to enter the stadium at least seven hours before the start of the match and it was complete packed with two hours remaining in the game.
“I don’t remember seeing such excitement before in Karachi. There were good charged crowd at this venue in ODIs in past, but this is just awesome. It shows the hunger of Karachiites for cricket,” said senior journalist Abdul Rasheed Shakoor of BBC Urdu service.
Another journalist Shahid Akhtar Hashmi said that the match is very memorable for him, not just as a journalist but also as a father.
“I covered the last match here nine years ago. My kids grew up without watching any game here and today they are here in stands and enjoying every bit of the match,” said Hashmi who reports for news agency AFP.
Spectators sitting in different stands were equally excited and joyous despite the long walk and multiple security checks in Karachi’s scorching heat on Sunday.
“I am supporting both Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi today. I am supporting Pakistan Cricket because whoever wins, it will be a victory of Pakistan Cricket,” said Sadaf who came to stadium at least five hours before the start of match to grab her seat in Zaheer Abbas enclosure.
To facilitate the fans, the local administration had arrange shuttle service to the stadium from various parking spots. Fans had to go thru security checks on at least five spots to enter the stadium ensuring a fool proof security.
“It was a warm day, but its okay. We had to go through security checks but it was necessary. We must cooperate with authorities. I am sure with more matches being played here, things will get smooth,” said Zahid who was sitting at Hanif Mohammad enclosure.
For fans, the PSL final is a sigh of relief, while for the PCB, it is another step towards bringing cricket back to Pakistan in general and to Karachi in particular.
The PCB, according to sources, is also treating this match as a learning step to host three T20Is against the West Indies next month.
“Whatever the shortcomings or learning were, will be applied in matches to come to make it more smooth for games in future,” said an official of PCB.