KARACHI, MAR 25 (DNA) – Amid extraordinary security arrangements, cricket-mad Karachi is all set to witness the final showdown of the third edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) between defending champions Peshawar Zalmi and Islamabad United. The air of festivity and excitement is palpable in the city of lights as Karachiittes are going to savour big-time cricket at the National Stadium Karachi (NSK) after nine-years of cricketing drought.
Karachi has not hosted a high-profile cricket event since an armed attack on the Sri Lankan team in early 2009, which virtually halted international cricket in Pakistan.
The previous year, however, saw the return of the cricket of international standing in the country with the PSL 2017 final staged in Lahore, which was followed by three T20 matches against the World XI.
The city has been festooned with billboards, murals and life-sized cardboard cutouts of PSL crickets with colorful lights installed in greenbelts along major city roads.
More than 30,000 cricket fans are expected to throng the stadium to watch the fixture.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) along with the support of Sindh government has decorated the metropolis to welcome and honor the game and its players.
– Security Arrangements –
With the 20-over match aimed to improve the image of Karachi and the country around the globe, extraordinary security arrangements have been made to ensure that the event passes off peacefully.
More than 8,000 security officials, including 800 Special Security Unit (SSU) commandos, and personnel of the Rangers and police, will perform their duties at designated places at the stadium and surrounding areas.
All the roads leading to the venue have been blocked for all traffic and the areas surrounding the stadium have also been put under surveillance to avoid any untoward incident.
Traffic Plan –
The roads leading to the National Stadium have been blocked as no spectator will be able to directly reach the venue.
Shahrah-e-Faisal and Shahrah-i-Quaideen will remain open throughout the day.
Special parking zones have been set up with shuttle services to take spectators to the venue from various designated pickup points.
– Car Parking Areas –
- Kashmir Road parking area
- Mangal Bazaar parking area
- Hakeem Said Playground parking area
- Federal Urdu University Parking areas
- Stadium Road parking area near Dalmia
The spectators will have to pass through security checkpoints and have their tickets verified by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) staff at parking lots before they will be allowed to move onward to the venue by buses.
The shuttle service starts at 12:00pm.
The shuttle services will drop the spectators at drop zones, where they will undergo the second physical search. The drop zones have been set up at the Expo Centre, one opposite Bahria University and opposite the Agha Khan University Hospital.
Then, they will have to walk about 200-300 meters from the drop zones to reach the stadium.
The gates of stadium will open at 12:00pm and will be closed at 5:00pm. Whereas the match will start at 8:00pm.
– Peshawar, Islamabad target title –
Defending champions Peshawar Zalmi are hoping to carry a winning momentum against Islamabad United in the final of the Pakistan Super League as cricket of some international colour returns in Karachi after a big gap of nine years on Sunday.
Peshawar won the last two matches of the league phase to sneak into the play-offs and then beat Quetta Gladiators and Karachi Kings in the two eliminators to earn another shot at the defence of the title they won in Lahore last year.
Islamabad, who won the title in the inaugural year of the PSL in 2016, are likely to be without their inspiration skipper Misbah-ul-Haq who suffered a hairline fracture in his left wrist, which left the captaincy in the hands of experienced South African batsman Jean-Paul Duminy.
For the overseas players the focus has been unprecedented and around the team hotel and the National stadium which will be cordoned off by around 10,000 military and police personnel with spectators body searched and carried to the stadium in shuttles.
Duminy looked satisfied while speaking of security arrangements.
“It’s been really good, all the logistical works have been done behind the scenes and we’ve been brought here pretty safely,” said Duminy after his team arrived at the stadium under heavy security.
Duminy was part of the South African one-day squad which played in Pakistan in 2007 and on his second visit he felt more passionate.
“It’s amazing to see how semi-finals went down in Lahore, the passion behind the game and support for local teams so we are very excited about tomorrow, it’s obviously going to be an exciting occasion to be part of PSL final and more specifically being in Karachi, so we are very excited about it,” said Duminy.
Peshawar Zalmi skipper Darren Sammy also described the final as a great occasion.
“Look there is no secret that I am not 100 percent fit there is no secret about it. I have to take part for my team and tomorrow that’s what I intend to do. The two games in Lahore were eventful ones and the first one especially was not good for heart.
“We needed to win them to get into the finals. I am happy that we are once again in the final and looking forward for tomorrow,” added Sammy.
The Zalmi captain said his squad is pumped up for the final.