The crowd went into a frenzy as their hero Shahid Afridi came on to bowl in a packed house at National Stadium Karachi. It was the semi-final of the national T20 cup between Karachi Dolphins and Sialkot Stallions. All the people in the crowd were roaring at the top their voice. Sitting in the stadium and watching the game live, I realized that day what the game of cricket meant to the people of the city. The sheer passion that was on display was incredible. Equally incredible was the crowd’s desire to see their team succeed. Despite the fact that Karachi Dolphins lost the match by 7 runs, watching the game was truly an unforgettable experience.
Sadly, this was the last time such an atmosphere was seen at the National Stadium. As we all know, an attack on the Sri Lankan team in 2009 halted international cricket in the country. At the same time, a decline in the quality of domestic games meant that the fans no longer had any kind of interest in going to the stadium to watch the matches. It took almost six years for cricket to return to the country. Yet, due to reluctance on the part of the teams, no games took place at the National Stadium.
However, as soon as it was announced that the final of PSL 3 was going to take place in the city, as a fan I began to wonder what the atmosphere in the stadium will be like if the Karachi Kings makes it to the final. The excitement doubled when Najam Sethi made the big announcement yesterday in which he confirmed that Karachi will host West Indies for 3 T20I on the 1, 2 and 4 April.
The importance of the PSL final and West Indies series
With the PSL final and the West Indies series on the Horizon, we will once again witness the same excitement and passion that has gone missing in the recent years. The years of wait to watch international cricket is finally over. The matches will reignite the interest of cricket in the city.
Additionally, the matches will also allow the PCB to demonstrate how the country is ready for international cricket. Despite PCB’s efforts international players are still hesitant to play in Pakistan. But with these tours, PCB can build trust among the stakeholders and achieve its long-term aim of bringing cricket and PSL back in the country. The full value of PSL as a commercial entity can only be enjoyed once the league returns to the country. Most of the franchises of the tournament are currently incurring losses. This is because of the lower crowds that come to watch the games held during week days. As a result, the franchises get a very small share of the ticket revenue. A return to Pakistan will certainly result in an increase in revenue for the franchises.
Breaking the stigma
Many people think of Karachi as an unsafe city. PSL final can play a key role in changing this perception of the city. These sporting events will highlight the positive changes that have taken place over the last couple of years. The event can rehabilitate the image of the city of lights.
As a fan, I am anxiously awaiting the return of cricket to the city. The quality of cricket played in the PSL so far has been nothing short of amazing. The tournament reached its highest point during the game last night giving us more reason to be excited to see such great cricket live. I plan on witnessing the historic events live, do you?