LAHORE: Pakistan took another step towards the revival of cricket at home on Tuesday when over a dozen foreign cricketers and coaches arrived in Pakistan to represent their respective teams in the playoffs stages of the Pakistan Super League.
With stars joining in, teams from Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi took on the field of Lahore’s Ghadaffi stadium in the eliminators stage of PSL, to make cricket the winner.
Sri Lankan Thisara Perera, South African Rilee Rossouw, Bangladeshi Mahmoodulllah Riyad and Englishman Tom Kohler Cadmore took on the field for Quetta Gladiators – the two-time finalists – with Australian Chris Green as a substitute player.
For Zalmis, West Indian duo of Andre Fletcher and Daren Sammy, were joined by Bangladeshi Tamim Iqbal and England’s Liam Dawson, with Chris Jordan and Rikki Wasseles on the bench in yellow.
More international players are in Lahore to represent Karachi Kings squad which will be in action on Wednesday at the same venue. Another bunch of foreign cricketers will directly land in Karachi later this week to represent Islamabad in the final of PSL.
And, for PCB, the arrival of 23 foreign cricketers to Pakistan is a huge success.
“It’s a huge success for PCB,” said PCB’s director media Amjad Bhatti.
“We had very few cricketers here last year, but this time around two dozen players are here which will give a strong message to cricketing fraternity around the world on how safe Pakistan is to host the international cricket matches,” added Bhatti.
Pakistan is hosting three PSL games this year in the country, two playoffs in Lahore and the finale in Karachi. The matches are, although, more than just cricket games for Pakistan.
Security was once again commendable at the venue and with times it is also becoming smooth and spectators’ friendly.
Shuttle buses were arranged to bring fans to the stadium from different pre-announced venues.
“It didn’t take much time for me to reach my enclosure from Liberty roundabout. Security was very smooth. I thought I would have to go thru hassle, but it was quite appreciable,” said Naira, a cricket fan who came to witness the Quetta vs Peshawar play-off.
The houseful at the Gaddafi stadium depicted the hunger of Pakistan cricket fans at home. The hunger to witness top cricket stars playing at Pakistani grounds.
“Look at the crowd, look at the atmosphere,” yelled a cricket fan, Daniyal, as the crowd was chanting loudly at the stadium, celebrating Dawnson’s half-century.
“I wish if KP and Watson were here too and their reluctance to come is not our loss, it is their loss,” he added.
The cricket fraternity in Pakistan is hopeful that this step of three PSL matches will further open the doors of international cricket to Pakistan.
Amjad Bhatti of PCB also agrees with this.
“We know that return of international cricket to Pakistan is a gradual process. We are taking one step at a time.” He said.
“Last year we had one PSL match here that open the doors for World XI team and Sri Lanka team. This year we are having three PSL games here and then three matches by West Indies in Pakistan,” Bhatti added with the hope that PCB will get more cricket to Pakistan.