KARACHI: ‘Jab barish hoti hai.. tou pani ata hai…’ (when rain comes, water comes) said Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed with a naughty smirk on his face that made everyone at the National Stadium’s presser burst into laughter.
The skipper’s witty remark while responding to a question by Dawn about the wet outfield, was inspired by a recent video gone-viral of Pakistan People’s Party co-chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari who said the same words in his own unique style at a press talk.
Worryingly, though, due to the unforeseen rain showers Pakistan’s history-making three-match One-day International series against the visiting Sri Lanka might fail to attract the crowds it so direly need.
Rain could be a dampener as tickets sale fails to pick up for historic ODI
Rain has been lashing the bustling metropolis for the last three days, and after visiting the ground ahead of Friday’s first ODI, Dawn learnt the venue’s outfield is not in perfect condition for the first game. Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) chief curator Agha Zahid and his ground staff must be hoping the sun shines with its full glory on match-day to dry up the ground fully and allow the start of the match on schedule at 3:00pm.
The rain is feared to make its impact not only on the field but, like always in the city marred by mismanagement of its municipal authorities, it will also be one of the discouraging factors for the fans aiming to visit the venue for the game.
“We are doing everything to make sure that fans turn up in big numbers for the ODIs,” a PCB spokesman told Dawn. “International cricket is returning at home after ten long years and it is time to show that we have been desperately waiting for it and want to enjoy it fully,” he added.
The PCB has been making efforts through social media campaigns as well as through other mediums to urge fans to visit the stadium for the three matches. Pakistan’s star players, including captain Sarfraz and vice-captain Babar Azam, through their Twitter accounts have asked the fans to become a part of history by making it to the stands.
However, Dawn has learnt that only around 40 per cent of the tickets for the Karachi ODIs have been sold till the filing of this report. According to a source, the ticket sales are slow. Along with the rain, the heavy security arrangements, due to which the city’s two to three important roads are closed for traffic on match days, are also set to play a negative part in making it difficult for the fans.
For one, all these problems make the idea of spending a whole day watching international cricket not so worthwhile.
“For me, the series is not as attractive as the Pakistan Super League (PSL) was when it came to Karachi this year,” Umer Shahkar, a young, ardent cricket fan told Dawn. “The visiting Sri Lanka side is also second string. Watching the match on television will be the better option,” he added.
Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium will host three T20s after the ODI series ends in Karachi on October 2. It has been learnt that the response in the Punjab capital is way better than what it is here in the metropolis and the PCB’s efforts of gradually bringing back international cricket to Pakistan are not going in vain by any means.
However, if fans turn up in decent numbers in Karachi, the message that goes out to the world will make Pakistan’s case as a safe and peaceful country even stronger.
Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2019