Friday June 14, 2024

Bigger stadium need of the hour, say Pindi fans

Barring a few changes that include construction of media block and gallery above the main pavilion

By Abdul Mohi Shah
March 12, 2024
An overview of the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. — X/@Therealpcb/File
An overview of the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. — X/@Therealpcb/File

RAWALPINDI: Rawalpindi deserves better facilities and far better capacity stadium than the one constructed almost 32 years back.

Barring a few changes that include construction of media block and gallery above the main pavilion, Pindi Stadium gives more or less the same look as it was just after making its international debut with the match against Sri Lanka ahead of the 1992 World Cup. The around 14000 capacity venue caters the requirement of a huge cricket audience, ranging from Gilgit to Jhelum and from North Waziristan to AJK. All cricket fans belonging to these parts of the country look eager and keen to enter the stadium to see their cricketing heroes in action. A few lucky ones, however, succeed in grasping a chance to see the action live, be it a Pakistan Super League (PSL) match or an international fixture. Those who have been covering international cricket at the venue since stadium (this correspondent is one of them) would vouch that even in late nineties when there was no T20 cricket at all, the stadium gave a packed look. The inception of T20 cricket has increased the demand for tickets to an unprecedented level. The PSL’s introduction made the scenario even worse. Had there been a capacity of around 50000, there was good chances that Pindi Stadium would have given a packed look.

Hundreds and thousands of spectators thronging in from KPK and other adjacent areas failed to get access to the stadium during the just-concluded PSL action.

“I have been trying all these days to buy tickets for my six-member family but to no avail. There are only limited enclosures in the stadium where you can sit with your family and enjoy the match. I tried hard to get access to the gallery tickets but to my bad luck, I failed to manage these as they say that it was sold out or not meant for the general public. Even I failed to get normal tickets for my children who are fans of Peshawar Zalmi and wanted to see Babar Azam in action,” Hashim Abid, who travelled from abroad to spend Ramzan and Eid here, said. Hashim was not alone, there were numerous others who had the same complaint.

“We tried hard to buy tickets but were unable to purchase. Last year I succeeded in getting a few. This fall it was quite difficult to get a few,” Ikramullah, who travelled from Waziristan to watch PSL action, said.

He questioned why no efforts had been made to increase capacity of the stadium in the recent past. “All these years no efforts have been made to increase the stadium’s capacity even after the PCB has taken possession of the venue. Just a few days back we heard that new chairman Mohsin Naqvi has decided to move forward in this direction. It is indeed a welcoming sign,” he said.

Naseer Ahmad proposed that the Pindi Stadium’s capacity should be doubled. What support the Pindi crowd has extended to the players and to the quality cricket during PSL 9 edition was amazing. All the cricketers who spoke to the media were of the opinion that playing in front of such a crowd was something beyond expression. Hopefully, the PCB would start working on the uplift of the venues at the earliest and cricket fans here deserve a far better treatment.