Cricket Hits Terrorism for a Huge Six!

Published in Hilal English

Written By: Omair Alavi


All that has now changed thanks to the effective attempts by the Pakistan Army who in collaboration with the Pakistan Cricket Board brought international cricketers back to not one but two cities–Lahore and Karachi. Lahore had its share of matches during the last few years but Karachi didn’t appeal to the international cricketers much, until now. With National Stadium making its debut as one of the venues for the event, Cricket returned to the City of Lights and brought hope with it of a better future and a new tomorrow.

Ever since the War on Terror began in the neighbouring countries of Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan has been termed as an ally of the Allied Forces. But instead of being praised for its stand, extremists from these countries made Pakistan their next target. For nearly a decade, the game of Cricket, which we Pakistanis love, suffered due to the presence of these terrorists who attacked the Sri Lankan Cricket team in Lahore, whose attempt to disrupt the Pakistan-Zimbabwe series was nullified and whose emergence was the reason why Pakistan was deprived of hosting many tournaments such as the coveted ICC Champions Trophy and the Cricket World Cup.

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All that has now changed thanks to the effective attempts by the Pakistan Army who in collaboration with the Pakistan Cricket Board brought international cricketers back to not one but two cities–Lahore and Karachi. Lahore had its share of matches during the last few years but Karachi didn’t appeal to the international cricketers much, until now. With National Stadium making its debut as one of the venues for the event, Cricket returned to the City of Lights and brought hope with it of a better future and a new tomorrow.


Moving on to the present, whoever has been to Karachi understands that it is one of the largest cities in the world in terms of both population and area. To control an entire city for one match that too of 40 overs in total would be humanly possible but when it’s impossible, that’s where the heavy machinery comes in. From the Jinnah International Airport to the Red Zone in the metropolis to the National Stadium and back, all the roads were decorated as if the World Cup was being played in the country. Players–both national and international–who were part of making Pakistan Super League a success had their images stamped all over the route and got the superstar treatment they deserved.


For once the whole city was all open except for the areas where the teams were supposed to pass from, and that’s one of the main reasons why the Karachi’ites were able to celebrate the return of Cricket to their city with all their might. Cinemas screened the match for those who couldn’t get the tickets; restaurants set up special screens to facilitate their customers and people who didn’t get a place at either ended up at a friend’s place to enjoy the match with like-minded individuals.


And then comes the National Stadium where everything was changed, upgraded and enhanced except for the top roof that is still under renovation. People from all walks of life and all parts of the world came to the most important place on Earth that day to witness the final of the PSL 3. The champions of the last two editions were there to become the first team to win multiple PSL trophies and their excitement was nothing compared to the zeal and fervor with which their fans attended the grand finale. Yes, they were not allowed to take food and water inside but who cares when you get to watch your favourite cricketers in the flesh, live in action from just a few feet away. The sun shone on top of them without the stadium providing them any shade but the match was an all-night affair and all those possible heat-strokes were cooled down by Luck Ronchi’s ‘master’ strokes.

 

crickedhitterror1.jpgThe closing ceremony that took place before the grand finale also electrified the proceedings. There were renowned singers like Strings, Shehzad Roy, Farhan Saeed, Aima Baig and Ali Zafar who made the saying ‘Good Things Come To Those Who Wait’ true. They all performed their own songs with Shehzad Roy using his Karachi Kings anthem as one from the hosts rather than the team that failed to qualify for the event. The crowd went berserk in the presence of Ali Zafar and Strings who left no stone unturned in entertaining the audience. It must have been a déjà vu moment for Strings who also had the honour of performing at the World Cup 2003 in South Africa and remain a force to reckon with even 30 years after their debut.


Finally, something about the 30 thousand people who braved the heat, long commute and bad weather to reach the National Stadium. Apart from a few individuals who were expecting to be visiting Melbourne Cricket Ground and were highly disappointed, the rest were at home because they were welcoming the game they love, the players they adore and were at the place where dreams come true, and you will understand that only if you are a Cricket enthusiast. Every wicket, every boundary was cheered as if it was the final wicket or the winning run of the World Cup and that not only helped the players perform better but also made the other stands do more in turn.


For a country that had been battling terrorism that has had its men, women and children martyred in the line of fire and that had lost its soldiers in the line of duty, Pakistan has come a long way. It was a night to remember for fans of the game who were treated to top class cricket in their home city. Many foreign players who had signed for the event including Shane Watson and Kevin Pietersen didn’t come to Pakistan but it was their loss as their teams failed to qualify for the grand finale. Legendary West Indian Cricketer Viv Richards’ team Quetta also failed to reach the final round but he came to Karachi and had a round of Golf before leaving for his home. He did pay a visit to the very stadium where he scored 181 not out against England 31 years back and declared Pakistan a safe place for Cricket. Thank You, Sir Viv!


The Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board Najam Sethi must be commended for convincing international cricketers to visit Pakistan and play in front of the real Pakistani crowd. Had it not been for him, even Luke Ronchi, Chris Jordan and the winning captain JP Duminy might not have said yes to visiting Pakistan, but they did and were praised by all those involved for their bravery. The Federal and Provincial Governments also deserve the credit for making Karachi safe for others to visit because a few years back, there was lawlessness everywhere in the City of Lights. It was only due to our collective efforts and victory against terrorism that normalcy returned to the country and Pakistan was able to host the knockout stage of the event, knocking out terrorism for good.

 

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