A Day @ National Stadium Karachi
Nearly a decade ago, Sirilankan cricket team was here in Pakistan for a full-scale series between the Shaheens and Lankans. When the teams left for Gaddafi stadium for the second test match, I was there to watch the toss around 9:00 AM. The thrill of a remote control could not wait and I kept on switching channels when one of the news channels reported that the Lankans were under attack by few gunmen near liberty chowk.The news had swept throughout the country and what happened next didn’t help us at all in restoring confidence in our security agencies, government, and sadly a political cricket board.
After an immense effort by each stakeholder in the country whether its law enforcement or administrative bodies.The gates of Gaddafi stadium welcomed the Pakistan Super League players last year followed by the Zimbabwean national team and guess what Lankans landed in Lahore yet again to avenge those gunmen and their anti-state motives.
25th March 2018 was the day for Karachites to rejuvenate their passion for the game after almost nine years and one couldn’t miss the finale at the National Stadium. Asking around for company for the finale I had to face “Khuwar Hojaaoge”, “AC mein beth ke match Dekho” as if they were ready to pay my electricity bill. My search for a finale partner continued, the day was saved by my sister with more than a ten-hour commitment due to some intense arrangements by our law enforcement for the visitors. We boarded an airconditioned shuttle with an escort of Rangers personnel and were dropped off some few kilometers away from the stadium. While embarking towards the stadium, there was this wave of uncertainty, whether we will be allowed to enter or not despite the ticket in hand? What if the gates are closed? The skeptical Pakistani mindset was full of endeavors.
The next ten hours were a spectacular display of our culture, the passion for the game and the love for the country. I could see some comments from prominent opinion leaders that the same match could be played in Waziristan with such apt security arrangements. Fair enough but the fact that Miran Shah is now considered for hosting a cricket match despite whatever arrangements is a national victory within itself.
I could see families, mothers with their infants and fans from all over the country to witness history in the making. The fact that the closing ceremony stage was tilted towards the VIP area, it didn’t shatter the enigma of thirty thousand odd spectators in the stadium. For Karachi, the real VIPs were those foreign players who landed with a sense of security and affection towards the game. From the local law enforcement to paramilitary and military, I had seen a disciplined and fully coordinated effort to welcome cricketing personalities to the city of lights.
What could be better than a fully decorated Karachi with a dazzling display of fireworks to end the night, the show put up did win a lot of hearts with a message to rest of the country that the city has much more to offer than looting cellphones on the streets.
– Shehryar Ejaz
Editor – The Daily 360