KARACHI: After a backbreaking schedule of 30 matches at the preliminary-round stage, the HBL Pakistan Super League 2019 has finally reached the business end of this rapidly fast-growing Twenty20 league with the most vital four fixtures to be played over the next five days here at the National Stadium.
The remaining four league matches of the franchised-based competition at this iconic venue of Pakistan cricket have been a resounding success in terms of sheer entertainment and great discipline shown by the spectators. In contrast to the bulk of 26 games held in Dubai, Sharjah and, for the first time, Abu Dhabi, the Karachi-leg — unsurprisingly — drew large well-behaved crowds amidst stringent security measures in operation on a massive scale and exactly on the pattern when last year’s final was efficiently done and dusted.
The totally-unexpected glitch faced by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in the wake of last-minute rescheduling of the eight matches planned for the country was swiftly put on the backburner by the exceptional organising skills of all the stakeholders, who have thus far handled with aplomb the gigantic task on hand which had unavoidably surfaced when the three Lahore ties were shifted to Karachi.
The smooth staging of the PSL — even though the last leg is only half done — has already delivered an emphatic message to the world: Pakistan is a peace-loving nation and is safe as any other country, and that the international teams should resume playing without any fear for their safety being endangered. It is only the negative propaganda in the media fanned by certain anti-Pakistan elements which is preventing them from touring this truly sports-loving part of the world.
The presence of several current and not-so-past international cricketers in Karachi gives us well-documented evidence that the days are not far off when Pakistan will, hopefully, host bilateral series in all formats.
While the PCB deserves to be complimented for taking the initiative to host the PSL matches here, the huge support from the Sindh government and all the security-related organisations working round the clock to look after the logistical matters pertaining to safeguarding not just the six competing teams, the foreign-based broadcasting units but also various dignitaries are just among the giant steps being undertaken to end the now 10-year wait for us Pakistanis to see our cricketing heroes playing a Test match on home soil for the first time since March 2009.
There is no need to discuss to the expansive fool-proof security blanket dished out for the PSL but as one senior paramilitary official pointed out that the confidence-building measures (CBM) are vital tools of bringing fulltime international cricket back to Pakistan.
“I’m a sports-loving individual myself and cricket is my real passion. For me the real worth of all our collective sacrifices will be the day a top-class foreign side like Australia or England come to Pakistan for a full series,” the official told Dawn on condition of anonymity.
“And that surely would be a landmark day in the history of Pakistan. I think we already are heading in the right direction and presence in Karachi of several top stars who had refused to play in Pakistan in the past PSL tournaments is a very, very good sign.”
Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2019