PSL 2017 final showdown: 'Will not bow our heads before anyone,' says Sethi at ceremony
The Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2017 final opening ceremony kicked off Sunday evening with parachutists making a dramatic entry at Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium.
Actors Ahmed Ali Butt and Ayesha Omer hosted the ceremony which precedes the hotly-anticipated clash between the Quetta Gladiators and the Peshawar Zalmi.
Singer Ali Zafar opened the show with his new PSL song 'Ab Khel Jamay Ga' surrounded by traditional dancers. Fakhir followed his act with old favourite 'Tere Bina Dil Na Lagay'.
The Peshawar Zalmi took a round of the stadium before a performance by band Overload.
Band frontman Farhad Humayun took the opportunity to make a political statement. "We will continue playing cricket here," he told a charged crowd.
"We will continue playing our music here, and our families and kids will go to parks and enjoy themselves," he said, before chanting 'Lal Shahbaz Qalandar' and taking up the drums alongside dhol walas beating their dhols.
Humayun's interlude was followed by Ali Azmat singing Junoon hits 'Yaro Yehi Dosti Hai' and 'Jazba Junoon', followed by 'O Lal Meri'.
PSL Chairman Najam Sethi thanked Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan Cricket Board Patron Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab administration, PSL and PCB officials, and the people of Pakistan for their encouragement and hard work that made the event possible.
"Today it is because of you that we are in Lahore," he told the crowd.
"Today there are people here from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Karachi, Quetta ─ from every part of Pakistan. This is a show of solidarity. The whole world should see we are together. We will not bow our heads before anyone. We can do anything."
"Wah, maza aye ga aaj [Today will be enjoyable]!... Someone will win, someone will lose, but in the end, it will be yours and Pakistan's win."
Unprecedented security in Lahore
Amid heightened security concerns following a wave of terror attacks in the country, the Punjab government claimed it had "prepared a fool-proof security plan" for the match.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah had said nearly 4,000 police and paramilitary Rangers will be patrolling the area and fans will have to pass five security layers before reaching the 25,000-capacity stadium, where the Zalmi will be playing the Gladiators.
Citing security fears, some high-profile foreign players, including former England captain Kevin Pietersen, who plays for the Quetta team, had decided to skip the final.
However, West Indies' World Cup-winning T20 captain Darren Sammy will be on the field captaining the Peshawar Zalmi.