With Pakistan Super League final between Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi witnessing 32,000 fans turning up at the National Stadium in Karachi on Sunday, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani expressed hope that the entire T20 league could take place in the country next year. The final eight games of the 2019 tournament were held in Karachi and saw a huge turnout of fans, without any security hitch.
“Today is a historic day,” Mani said at the closing ceremony after Gladiators beat former champions Zalmi by eight wickets to lift their maiden title.
“Around 230,000 people have watched matches in Karachi which indicates that Pakistan is a safe country and we are gradually returning to normal as far as hosting cricket is concerned,” he added.
A spectacular finish to an epic encounter. Trophy belongs to the Gladiators! #PSL4 🏏💪
Pakistan Zindabaad!#QuettaGladiators #KaiKaiQuetta #PurpleForce #ShaanePakistan #PSL2019 pic.twitter.com/OW5v4afj9h
— Quetta Gladiators (@TeamQuetta) 17 March 2019
43 international stars, including former Australia allrounder Shane Watson, and current New Zealand opener Colin Munro travelled to Pakistan for the final leg of the tournament. “I thank all the foreign players who came here and I hope to see them here for all the PSL matches next year,” Mani said.
Watson, who was named as the man of the tournament, described the atmosphere in the country as “incredible”. “It’s incredibly special to be able to play in front of incredible atmosphere and fans,” he said at the post-match presentation ceremony after the final.
The winning team skipper Sarfraz Ahmed said: “I thank the people for coming in big numbers. We have sent a clear message that Pakistan is passionate about cricket and we are ready to host more cricket.”
The losing captain Darren Sammy further added: “I have never played in such an atmosphere. This proves that Pakistan is ready for more cricket.”
ICC CEO David Richardson also praised Pakistan for safely hosting PSL matches. “The perception outside of Pakistan was that it was quite a dangerous place to visit in the past and that perception slowly but surely has been changed,” he said.
An attack on Sri Lanka team bus a decade ago in Lahore saw foreign teams refusing to travel to Pakistan due to security concerns. But over the last few years, cricket has started to revive in the country. In 2018, Pakistan hosted three PSL games and a T20I series against West Indies. In 2017, the country hosted three T20I against World XI and one T20I in 2017. Pakistan had earlier hosted Zimbabwe for five limited-overs matches in 2015, followed by the PSL final.