Karachi: The gates are open, security arrangements are in place and hundreds of spectators have started lining up to experience the first major cricketing event in Karachi in the last nine years.
Nearly 32,000 inhabitants of the cricket-starved city will witness the showdown between Peshawar Zalmi and Islamabad United as they compete for the Pakistan Super League 2018 title at National Stadium Karachi.
The gates to the venue were opened at 12 noon, and some spectators had shown up as early as 12:30pm on a sunny Sunday. The gates were to close at 5pm, however, the time was extended as visitors continued to arrive.
The closing ceremony of the tournament will start 6pm, the toss will take place at 7:30pm and the match will commence at 8.
Hundreds of shuttles had been arranged to transport fans from five designated parking points to the stadium. Spectators — many of whom are donning Zalmi and United merchandise, but also the national colours — are being allowed to enter the venue after multiple security checks.
PSL Final brings more glitters to ‘City of Lights’. Thanks to PCB, foreign players, govt administration, security apparatus and the resilient Pakistanis. Terrorism imposed on us is on the way out; we are on the way to our rightful destination of enduring peace and stability, IA.
— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) March 25, 2018
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah inspected the arrangements and facilities for the match from a helicopter. He directed the organisers to ensure that there is no lapse in facilitating the visitors.
As part of security arrangements, four main roads surrounding the stadium have been closed for traffic. Fire brigades and ambulances are on standby.
Karachi has not staged a high-profile fixture of international standing since Sri Lanka played here in early 2009 — the same year a dozen gunmen had fired on the Islanders’ team bus during their second Test in Lahore. The dastardly terrorist attack had left six of the visiting players wounded and eight others, including two civilians, dead.
While international cricket returned to Lahore with the staging of the PSL final last year, followed by three T20 Internationals against a World XI side and another versus Sri Lanka last October, Karachi has experienced a long barren run when it comes to top-level cricket.
However, today, the sprawling metropolis finally gets the opportunity to host two top sides for the PSL finale, with next week’s three-match series against current World T20 champions, the West Indies, to follow.