KARACHI – Pakistan’s biggest city is gearing up to host the final of the third edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) tomorrow (March 25), for the first time in nine years amid heavy security at a newly renovated National Stadium.
The Twenty20 final between Islamabad United and last year’s champions Peshawar Zalmi will be the first time Karachi, the ‘City of Lights’, hosts a PSL game.
More than 8,000 security personnel have been deployed for the final match. Karachi, now with a population of 15 million, last saw a major game with international players in February 2009 – Sri Lanka vs. Pakistan in a Test match.
The provincial administration in Karachi has put up in place stringent security arrangements for Sunday’s final.
The stadium is situated in the centre of the city, and all major routes from all four directions that connect with the stadium will be closed for the general public.
Spectators might have to wait in long queues hours before the evening final and will get into the stadium only after going through at least three security checkpoints.
The two biggest hospitals of the city, Agha Khan and Liaquat National, are located close to the stadium, but the roads leading to them will be open. A shuttle service will be in place to take fans from the parking area to the stadium gates. The flow of traffic is likely to be reduced, but a strict directive has been issued to follow the day’s plan to avoid congestion.
The city is giving a festive look to welcome foreign players like Peshawar Zalmi’s Darren Sammy of West Indies and Chris Jordan of England, and South African J.P. Duminy and New Zealand’s Luke Ronchi of Islamabad United.
Billboards and player cut-outs have been displayed on the sides of main streets to celebrate an international-standard game for the first time in nearly a decade.
Sammy has become a household name in Pakistan especially the way he has carried Zalmi to the final after playing four successive matches with a leg injury.
Peshawar Zalmi, led by twice-World Cup winning captain Darren Sammy, won the title in 2017 and is hugely popular among cricket fans.
Lahore first hosted the PSL final last year, and there were Twenty20 international matches organised against a World XI (three matches) and Sri Lanka (one).
This year, the Punjab capital hosted two eliminators at Gaddafi Stadium which saw a huge number of participation from cricket lovers.