Let the games begin

Pleasantries are and should be in order for the foreign players who agreed to visit Pakistan

Let the games begin PHOTO COURTESY: Twitter/PSL

Welcome to Karachi everyone, the city of lights that has now turned into the city of cricket for the eight Habib Bank Limited (HBL) Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches.

The process of return of cricket to Pakistan has come a long way since the still-disturbing 2009 attack on a Sri Lankan team bus and all thanks to the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) management under Shaharyar Khan, then Najam Sethi and now Ehsan Mani, the process is gaining pace.

The announcement of eight matches in Pakistan at the end of last year came as a breeze of fresh air for the cricket enthusiasts of the country, who are dying to watch local stars perform in front of their own eyes.

The change of venue of the initial matches from Lahore to all matches in Karachi was the only hiccup that the PCB management had to face but all things considered, the most important thing still is that all matches are being held in Pakistan.

There is one school of thought that believes that the traffic problems and the operational/security cost to organise the matches are too difficult to ignore and the juice is not worth the squeeze, and they may be right to an extent, but considering the message that these matches will send to the world about Pakistan is priceless.

Pakistan was once the main hub for sports tourism when cricket wasn’t forced out of the country. Stadiums were filled to the full, eventually boosting business activity around the vicinities.

Foreigners were travelling without any fear to the country, enjoying the local cuisines and culture, all the while watching their teams perform on foreign soil.

Cricket was the main attraction for all of them, but that hasn’t been the case since 2009.

However, times are changing and with the promise of a complete PSL in Pakistan in the near future, things seem to be moving in the right direction.

Pakistan has somehow pulled itself out of the misery of being called an ‘unsafe’ place to travel to, but these matches, if all goes well, will not only help the country dismiss that tag, it will also augment international community’s faith if they are planning to invest in Pakistan.

Pleasantries are and should be in order for the foreign players who agreed to visit Pakistan this year as they will then act as country’s ambassadors to the world, telling everyone how welcoming and loving the nation’s people are.

PSL4’s Pakistan leg is starting from Saturday at the National Stadium of Karachi with the final scheduled for March 17, and when everything is done, cricket historians will make sure they mark it as the start of a new era in the country’s cricketing history.