LAHORE: Unprecedented security arrangements have been put in place for Sunday’s Pakistan Super League (PSL) final at the Gaddafi Stadium, the likes of which have never been seen here during the Test or ODI matches, even when the Indian cricket team toured here in 2004.
For the first ever time, a five-layer security is being provided to the two domestic teams which will also feature four foreign cricketers each. The army personnel, rangers and police officials have completely cordoned-off the area and their vehicles are frequently patrolling the stadium.
NADRA, too, has deployed its four mobile database vans in the stadium to check against any fake NICs then and there.
A temporary 25-bed hospital has also been set up at the National Hockey Stadium, adjacent to Gaddafi Stadium, to meet any medical emergency. It will be working 24 hours.
The PCB’s own bullet proof buses will be used for carrying the teams from their hotels to the stadium and back. The sniffer dogs, which were also used when India toured here in 2004 are visible in good number at the Gaddafi Stadium.
There are also reports in the media that gas supply to the surrounding areas is also suspended for the last three days in order to avoid any mishap such as gas cylinder blast etc.
Meanwhile, the DSNGs of the electronic media channels have not been not allowed to enter the Nishtar Sports Complex and have been forced to park at the roundabout near the Liberty Chowk. A shuttle bus service is being provided to the ticket-holders from their parking stands to respective enclosures and then back to the parking areas. Media personnel, too, will be allowed to avail the shuttle service.
The PSL final will surely mark the first occasion when top three officials of the country — the President of Pakistan, the Prime Minister and the Army chief - will be present at the Gaddafi Stadium to witness the match.
Though the tour of Zimbabwe cricket team for ODIs and T20s back in 2015 had failed to restore the confidence of foreign cricket teams to resume their tours to Pakistan, the PSL final is seen as another significant attempt by the authorities to convince the cricketing world about the safe environment for sports in Pakistan and allay their fears and security concerns.
It may be mentioned here that since 2009, when the terrorists carried out an attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore - international cricket has not returned to this country, causing severe financial setbacks to the PCB and depriving millions of cricket fans of top class competitive cricket.
A a spokesman for the PCB announced here here on Friday that the PSL finalist teams will not be holding press briefings for the media here on Saturday.
Quetta Gladiators, the first team to have reached the final, have already arrived in Pakistan from the UAE on Thursday while the second finalist will reach the country on Sunday morning.
Meanwhile, Provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah has said cellphone service will not be suspended in Lahore on the day of the final.
Talking to the media at the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday, the minister said high security would not only be in place for the stadium but for the entire city.
Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2017