Pakistani spectators hold placards prior to the start of the final cricket match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) between Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi at The Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore on March 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / AAMIR QURESHI
By Roohan Ahmed
Cricket has finally come back to Karachi, the city where I was born and started playing the game in the late 90s. Like thousands of fans, I too am grateful to the Pakistan Cricket Board, its chairman Najam Sethi, the government and all the law-enforcement-agencies for making this city safe again for the international cricket.
In my short six-year career in journalism, I have written many stories on politics, extremism and militancy but this is the first time I am writing an opinion piece on sports. This is a positive change and a much needed one; Karachi is in the news again not because of Lyari gangs, militant wings or terrorists but because of cricket.
Pakistani cricket fans were tired of watching old faces – tested, tried and failed – who had let them down so many times but were still playing in the team. Thanks to the former PCB chairmen who made no attempts to fix the cricket structure.
Misbah-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi, Younus Khan, Shoaib Malik, the Akmal brothers, and Muhammad Hafeez were the faces we always relied on to win the matches.
All of them had performed (minus the Akmals), served the country and entertained fans but everybody knew they could not play forever and one-day would retire like the others.
But who would replace them was a question we kept asking while cursing the PCB for not creating a system that would inject fresh-blood to a dying team.
We had been hearing about our own international league for a long time specially after the IPL’s snub. But that was just on paper. Then came Najam Sethi, a man with the nerves of steel. He came, he fought and he conquered.
Suddenly, the PSL became a reality.
Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali, Faheem Ashraf and Ruman Raees were all PSL finds who were instrumental in Pakistan’s Champions Trophy victory.
Sarfaraz Ahmed, a happy-go-lucky wicket-keeping batsman was made the captain of Quetta Gladiators owned by Nadeem Omer. The league polished him as a leader and he turned out to be a thinking man when he was formally made Pakistan’s captain.
He led from the front and with the young PSL guns on his side he delivered what we never expected.
What a night that was. People were dancing in the streets and elders distributed mithai.
LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 18: Pakistan lift the ICC Champions Trophy after beating India during ICC Champions Trophy Final between India and Pakistan at The Kia Oval on June 18, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
What has PSL done for Pakistan? International cricket stars are coming here to revive the grounds that have been empty since a 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore.