Gradual return home of international cricket
With the safe and successful conclusion of the annual PSL Twenty 20 cricket extravaganza on Sunday, the foremost instinctive reaction was still a sigh of relief that the event had passed without any disturbing incident, a gut feeling still occasioned by years of terror-related jolts. Though Lahore-based matches were shifted to Karachi because of irritatingly familiar ‘troubles’ with India, eight out of total 34 matches were played in the port city, amidst massive spectator support, with the final drawing over 28,000 spectators. The barbarism of global terrorism still intruded though, with news of the massacre of 50 Muslim worshippers by a white supremacist fanatic in two New Zealand mosques, where the touring Bangladesh cricket team fortunately escaped death by a hair’s breadth.
On the twenty-two yards turf itself, as often happens, the tournament ended rather tamely, a low-scoring encounter in which new champions Quetta Gladiators became third-time lucky, after faltering in the final on two previous occasions. They disposed of fancied Peshawar Zalmi who managed a mere 138/8 in 20 overs, which was easily overhauled, 139/2 in 17.5 overs. It was one-sided, but the excitement and spirit of vociferous, cricket-starved fans was not dampened, they remained totally involved and absorbed in the proceedings. New talent was uncovered, especially Gladiators’ fast bowler Mohammad Husnain, who took crucial 3/30 in the final, as well as pacer Musa Khan and wily spinner Umer khan. The first three PSL’s led to emergence of present stars Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi and Faheem Ashraf, and the current raw lot will no doubt benefit hugely in skills and confidence from playing alongside world-renowned cricketers before cheering home crowds. The federal and provincial governments, security agencies and Pakistan Cricket Board deserve kudos for the smartly managed PSL 2019. PM Imran Khan has raised the possibility of the entire event being staged in Pakistan next year, while the visiting International Cricket Council chief executive opined that successful Karachi staging of PSL 2019 matches makes it easier for ICC to support world cricket’s return to Pakistan. To all the supportive international cricketers, but especially to Darren Sammy and retired legend Viv Richards, the country owes a huge debt of gratitude.