On Sunday, a feverish Gaddafi Stadium will play host to the final of the second edition of the Pakistan Super League.
By hook or by crook, the Pakistan Cricket Board and PSL has convinced local authorities, players, team owners and a smattering of foreign stars to take part.
Metal detectors, sniffer dogs and various stages of entry will punctuate the sell–out crowd’s entry to the stadium in a 2km stretch of security patrolled by over 10,000 security figures, from the local Punjab police to the country’s paramilitary taskforce; the Rangers.
It will be an enormous operation that, insha’Allah, will provide both the public and the teams with a safe environment to crown a winner out of Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi.
The en mass take up of tickets for the final proves just what cricket of this magnitude means to the Pakistan public and the stringent policing of the surrounding area to the stadium an indictment of the risk they are taking to watch a final that many in Dubai would take for granted.
The spate of terrorist attacks over the course of the past two weeks or so have claimed more than 100 lives across Pakistan and, though the stadium is blanketed in its safety net, the rest of the country, will be holding its breath considering the resources exhausted in the Gaddafi’s vicinity and not elsewhere.
It is a minor miracle that the match is going ahead in Lahore, the dedication of PSL chairman Najam Sethi managing to convince those that needed convincing that the match can go ahead without incident.
Sethi’s bloody mindedness must be applauded and that four of Peshawar’s foreign players look like making the trip is a major indictment for Sethi and cricket in Pakistan going forward, but doesn’t quite feel like the ushering of the new dawn that was hoped for.
That was Sethi and the PSL’s main objective, to lead the way in returning Pakistan cricket to Pakistan and forge ahead with eventually taking the entirety of the league back home.
But, considering Quetta’s entire foreign players, commentators Danny Morrison, Ian Bishop, Mel Jones and Alan Wilkins, as well as members of the foreign media and the tournament’s production company – Sunset + Vine – will not make the trip, the issues remain clear.
And this is for just a one-off match, which will see all parties fly in and out without much more than a trip to and from airport and stadium.
When the ambition is to see bilateral internationals return to Pakistan, simply from a logistical sense, how could the government, police and armed forces commit 10,000 people to, say, a series of two T20Is, three ODIs and three Tests and across 45 days, like the one Pakistan will play in West Indies from March to May?
Great news. 2 passes are being issued by PSL marketing for PSL final to Mehr Khalil, the bus driver who saved S Lanka team in 2009 #PSLFinal— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) March 4, 2017
No-one could justify that and this exercise will not see international teams lining up to tour Pakistan like the good old days.
Unfortunately, that still seems some way off as long as the likes of the tragic terrorist attacks that occurred in February continue to pop up in spite of the Pakistan government’s breakthroughs in the last few years.
But the driving force is different now and on Sunday in Lahore, the entire city will be looking to raise its collective middle finger to the terrorists that seek to ruin their country and way of life in a show of strength that proves life goes on and that these cowards will never prevail.
The watching world will be praying Pakistan wins this battle, that it is their day and for one night only, Pakistan rocks to the sounds of the PSL.