• 31 Mar - 06 Apr, 2018
  • Sohaib ALvi
  • Sports

It was a night to remember. Just about everything that could have gone wrong, didn’t. From the arrangements of the organisers to the patience of the spectators streaming to the National Stadium to the cricket itself, there was near perfection. If anything could be pointed out as horrendous timing was the start of the song and dance of Ali Zafar during the call for Maghrib prayers. In an event of this magnitude you would expect that to have been anticipated and a 3-4 minute gap built into the proceedings. Even the Hindu extremist, Indian PM Modi has been known to have paused his speeches at the time of the azan. We are a Muslim country and there is no game or event higher than the call to prayer.

But let’s put it to an oversight or carelessness on part of the organisers and singer who could have taken the initiative to pause. Other than that, it was near flawless. In fact, one must credit the marketing department or the event management company that was assigned the task of promoting the final coming to Karachi. The manner in which the city was lit up especially the areas around the stadium and the roads leading to the ground was alluring and inspiring.

Of course the highlight was the arrival of foreign players to Pakistan. They may not have been the top cricketers playing today but they were certainly magnanimous when they spoke about Pakistan. It may have been expected considering the hospitality and security bestowed on them, but the happiness on their faces was certainly genuine.

Both Darren Sammy and JP Duminy delivered the select phrases in Urdu as the crowd cheered them vociferously in response to their queries in Urdu like, “Karachi walon kaisay ho?” by the West Indian and “Salam Alaikum Karachi” by the South African. In fact, it was ironic that the PSL final, which signalled the return of foreign players to Karachi after the lapse of nine years, had two foreign captains. And that Misbah-ul-Haq, whose dream it was to lead in his home country with and against foreign players couldn’t materialise due to his broken wrist.

At this point, let us not forget the matches in Lahore. There was little to no complaints and Lahoris also displayed tremendous patience and discipline giving the world the message of a nation that is proud, patient and passionate; and most of all hospitable as some of the foreign players who came over would certify.

For Karachi Kings, the biggest disappointment was the withdrawal of Eoin Morgan. He was actually leading the side in the absence of the injured Imad Wasim and Shahid Afridi. Again his presence could have made a huge difference for Karachi was not just immaturely led by Mohammad Amir but the difference of a dozen runs or so could have been made up by Morgan’s batting prowess.

It shows that the only motivation of these players was money and that they have no loyalty to their moral commitments. Imagine the goodwill they would have gained. The only players whose absence did not make a difference were Alex Hales and Sam Billings, whose side – Islamabad United – won the title anyway.

There are rumours that since Morgan, Roy and Billings are current England players they may have been discouraged by the English authorities to travel to Pakistan. But then Samit Patel and Chris Jordan, both of whom play for England, came over. So is that fair skinned players among those currently playing, felt more threatened than non-whites? Well, Steven Finn travelled to Karachi so that would entirely not be true. It could be that the contracted players had to listen to London.

There was the heartfelt cry from Moin Khan just after the conclusion of the league games that the owners should not sign up those foreign players who do not commit in the contract to coming and playing in Pakistan. I felt that was too late in the day. The players had had their stint and earned their money. They were least bothered about any ill will generated within the side.

They have the viewpoint that they decided not to come because it was only unprecedented security arrangements that led to the matches taking place. That indicates that all is not well and there was a threat. To that can be the answer that it is not their concern. They were required in the stadium and there was guarantee there considering the briefing that was given to them. Life and safety decisions are made on probabilities and considering the security apparatus inside the ground where even water bottles were not allowed, it was improbable that any object could have been hurled at them while fielding on the boundary.

They could have actually earned some bonuses that surely have been given to foreign players who turned up. And for the Islamabad foreign players there is the question whether they would receive any of the win bonus that will be handed out.

That said, let us just focus on the joy of the cricket that was on display. From the nerve tingling first eliminator when Anwar Ali hailed fours and sixes in the last over to the stupendous hitting of Kamran Akmal in the second to the blistering cameo of Asif Ali in the final just when the Zalmis seemed to be coming back, the PSL3 kept the fans on tenterhooks. It indeed finished with a blast as Fahim Ashraf scooped the winning shot into the stands.

The PSL Final had at the end been safely delivered and as it seems today, won’t be the last. •