Fans brave intense heat as Multan welcomes international cricket after 14 years

Published June 9, 2022
MULTAN: A general view of the fans during the first One-day International between Pakistan and West Indies at the Multan Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.—INP
MULTAN: A general view of the fans during the first One-day International between Pakistan and West Indies at the Multan Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.—INP

MULTAN: It took time but eventually the Multan Cricket Stadium was filled to capacity. The magnitude of the occasion was such that even the intense heat prevailing in Multan failed to deter fans from travelling for the city’s first international match after 14 years.

Many of those walked for a couple of kilometers in scorching temperatures of 46 degrees Celsius just to be there. Multan had not hosted an international match since the one-dayer between Pakistan and Bangladesh in 2008.

The opening match of the three-game ODI series between Pakistan and the West Indies finally ended that long wait. The rest of the series will also be played in Multan but it was the Wednesday’s first ODI which inevitably had the top billing.

While the fans had to leave early to reach the stadium — some 30 kilometres away from Multan’s city centre — in time for the start of the match, the teams decided to delay their arrival by an hour in order to stave off effects of the unrelenting heat.

Teams usually arrive two hours before the start but here, Pakistan and West Indies arrived only an hour before and players who are being provided ice collars, vests and extra water breaks to beat the heat immediately came out for their pre-match drills.

The late departure times of the teams from the hotel meant traffic congestion on the stadium route afterwards. With state level security offered to the teams, the route has to be cleared of any sort of traffic for at least an hour.

And so fans that left for the stadium after the teams’ departure faced long traffic jams just to make it to the venue. For the cricket-starved public, even that wasn’t going to be a barrier.

After all, it was only due to some unavoidable circumstances that Multan got the opportunity to end its international cricket drought.

The series was set to be played in Karachi at the end of last year but was postponed after a number of Covid-19 cases in the West Indies camp.

When the dates were finalised for the series this year, Rawalpindi was the chosen venue only for political uncertainty in nearby Islamabad forcing it to be shifted to Multan.

And while those who travelled to the stadium were unflustered by the weather or the heat, other residents of the city weren’t too happy with the arrangements made to hold the series.

“We welcome international cricket in Multan but it’s coming at a cost as we have to face traffic jams due to the security protocols,” Malik Ahad, a business owner at the electronics market, told Dawn. “The local administration must adopt other best measures to minimise our problems, besides giving smooth journey to the teams.”

Another citizen suggested that it would be better if the teams were brought to the stadium through helicopters.

“The cantonment area is quite close to the hotel where the teams are staying and it even has a helipad,” Shujauddin told Dawn. “It would take only a few minutes for the teams to travel from the hotel to the helipad and helicopters would take the teams from there to the stadium in a matter of minutes.

“Not only that but it will also spare a good number of police, rangers and other security officials to do their other routine jobs instead of standing on the side of the roads to stop people.”

Inside the stadium, it was the turn of television reporters to brave the heat. With no special corner set up for them to express their views before the start of the match, they had to do their job while standing in open air.

DEBUTANT HARIS

Pakistan handed a debut to wicket-keeper/batter Mohammad Haris; the 21-year-old playing as a specialist batter with Mohammad Rizwan already in the side.

Haris impressed with the bat for Peshawar Zalmi during this year’s Pakistan Super League but his selection raised eyebrows as the team management hasn’t picked two specialist wicket-keepers in the playing XI during recent times.

For a long time, former Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed has been a passenger with the team during its tours as an understudy to Rizwan, who has made the wicket-keeping slot his own with a string of impressive performances.

Haris had been selected for the home series against New Zealand last year, which was cancelled abruptly by the tourists. He was also part of the Pakistan squad for Australia’s historic tour of the country earlier this year but didn’t feature in any of the matches.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Skyrocketing prices
Updated 03 Jul, 2022

Skyrocketing prices

Some sellers are seeking to take advantage of the prevailing disorder by creating artificial shortages or jacking up prices.
Flooding alert
03 Jul, 2022

Flooding alert

THE Gilgit-Baltistan government has issued an alert about the possible flooding of areas along river banks and...
Assaulting journalists
03 Jul, 2022

Assaulting journalists

ANOTHER day, another citizen roughed up for speaking his mind. The assault on veteran journalist Ayaz Amir by...
Uncertainty remains in Punjab
Updated 02 Jul, 2022

Uncertainty remains in Punjab

With the latest verdict, the judiciary seems to have unintentionally entered the political arena, which is not desirable.
Turbulence in tech
02 Jul, 2022

Turbulence in tech

THE party seems to have cooled considerably for the Pakistani start-up scene. With some of the world’s biggest...
Environmental cost
02 Jul, 2022

Environmental cost

THE collective impact of climate-disaster-health hazards are already taking a huge toll on Pakistan’s fragile...