KARACHI: The final phase of HBL Pakistan Super League was a rip-roaring success with almost a quarter of a million boisterous fans thronging the National Stadium over the course of seven match days.
Ask Ehsan Mani, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman and he will tell you that the hordes of cricket supporters in Karachi was the biggest reason why PSL’s season 4 was a memorable event.
Mani on Monday paid glowing tributes and thanked the die-hard cricket fans, the 39 foreign international players and all the local stars for the event a big success.“The biggest endorsement was that 39 to 40 foreign players came to Pakistan,” he said. “Add support staff to it and the number reaches 150 people. Our credibility — and ICC CEO David Richardson also [corroborated] this — in the international world has reached a new level. Now when we say something, we are taken seriously and believed,” he added.
He termed the league as a ‘resilient’ event and said it had delivered all event objectives despite tough operational and logistical challenges caused due to reasons beyond the PCB’s control.
“The fans made this a truly Pakistan event. Cricket euphoria gripped the entire country as the fans got behind the tournament and made this an overwhelming success,” Mani said.“The fans not only enjoyed and celebrated the festival of cricket, but they also portrayed a very positive image of Pakistan.
“This is the real power of a nation and I can’t thank the fans enough for the way they got behind the tournament, supported all the teams and applauded good performances,” he said.“The success of any event is gauged by crowd attendances and I am delighted that the overall crowd turnout at the National Stadium over the seven match days was nearly 95 per cent. This reflects the passion and love for cricket here.
“I am sad that the Lahore fans were unable to attend the matches due to operational and logistical challenges, but they too contributed in a big way and I am thankful to all those who backed and supported the matches in the larger national interest,” said Mani.
He stressed that PSL had been designed as a vehicle to resume international cricket in Pakistan, which needs to be played across the country.
“We have gradually increased the number of matches in Pakistan from one to three to eight. I am confident we will have matches at more venues next year. In this relation, we will soon start our preparations for PSL 2020 and in due course share plans on how we can increase fan participation by expanding the league. It is inevitable that more than eight matches at multiple venues will be held in Pakistan in 2020.”
Mani said despite facing severe mid-series operational and logistical challenges, the league didn’t drop the ball at any stage and continued to maintain its very high standard and quality.
“The 2019 event has shown how resilient this league is. Having lost the production partner in the first week and then the fallout from last month’s turn of events, to pull everything smoothly, flawlessly and professionally reflects the strength and power of this league.
“Shane Watson’s decision to come to Karachi after having declined pre-event, is a testament of the confidence he had in the PCB and all the security agencies. It was also a validation that he too considered Karachi as a peaceful and cricket-loving city, while reinforcing his respect and commitment for the league.”
Mani said the quality of cricket was from the top draw.“The league lived up to the expectations of the fans and followers when it provided 15 last-over finishes. There were 21 matches in which scores of 170 or more were scored, while 404 runs were scored in the match between Multan Sultans and Lahore Qalandars. This high-quality cricket was played due to good batting surfaces.”