It will be like a dream come true when the final of Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2018 takes place in Karachi today between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi. Karachi hasn’t hosted a cricket match of such magnitude in almost a decade and the PSL finale is just the kind of game that is needed to break the ice.
Islamabad United directly qualified for the final after beating Karachi Kings in the qualifying match. Peshawar reached the final after beating Karachi in the second qualifying game.
Watching PSL final in Karachi’s National Stadium is exciting for all the fans. After a very long time, a high-profile match is being played in the city.
It is disappointing for the Karachiites that their team failed to qualify for the final, but a good contest is expected as both teams are former champions.
National Stadium Karachi is the largest stadium of Pakistan. The last match here was played in February 2009 between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Pakistan have played more than half of their Tests in Pakistan on this ground. They have lost just two. Once the National Stadium was known as Pakistan’s cricket fortress.
The only Twenty20 match in National Stadium Karachi was played between Pakistan and Bangladesh on April 20, 2008.
Last year PSL final was played in Lahore. Karachi is as safe as any other part of the country.
Former captain Shahid Afridi last year urged the Pakistan Cricket Board to expand international cricket beyond Lahore, to Karachi and other cities across the country.
“The purpose should be to show the world that not just Lahore, but all of Pakistan is safe,” he said.
Besides, the West Indies are set to play a three-match Twenty20 series in Karachi in the first week of April.
International Cricket Council’s security consultant Reg Dickason is in Karachi for the PSL final to assess security arrangements. The expert will stay back for seven days and conduct the security survey for the West Indies series.
Terror attacks have happened in America and Europe as well. But no team or player refuses to play in these countries.
Some of the English players were unwilling to return for the Test series in India after the Mumbai terror attack in 2008, but the BCCI officials requested England team to come back to India for the Test series, saying that otherwise terrorism would win.
Indian media and former cricketers argued that England should play in India and not allow the terrorists to succeed in spreading fear, despite reports that terrorists were attacking mainly British and American citizens.
But when the Indian government chose not to send the team to Pakistan, these same players supported the government. The players included Kapil Dev, Dilip Vengsarkar, Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly.
In 1991, Shiv Sena’s men damaged the Wankhede Stadium’s pitch two days before Pakistan’s ODI series in India. India requested Pakistan to continue the tour. We not only continued the tour but did not even ask to change the venues.
In 1999 again when Pakistan were touring India, Hindu militants opposed Pakistan tour to India and dug up Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium pitch.
If Pakistan could continue their tours, why are other teams hesitant to come to Pakistan?
Australia continued their tour in 2005 even after the 7/7 bomb blasts. In that incident, 52 people were killed and around 700 wounded. But the touring Australian team never asked for cancelling the tour.
If Bangladesh board can take a strong stand and refuse to play on a neutral venue against England, why does PCB fail to take a solid stand? Terrorism is not an issue in Pakistan only. It can happen and has happened in many countries.
But all that is past. PSL finals and the tour by the West Indies will send a strong message to other teams and their players that Pakistan is safe.