Tight Security as International Cricket returns to Gaddafi Stadium
The Independence Cup has all the makings of being a water shed moment for international cricket in Pakistan. Yet when the World XI squad took an open top rickshaw ride around the stadium before their first Twenty20 International against Pakistan, the Gaddafi Stadium was only half full.
Fans turned up at the stadium with messages of “thank you” and “welcome” on placards for the cricketers whose involvement in this three game series they hope will herald the return of international cricket to the cricket crazy country.
Even the security of the stadium was sealed off by thousands of police and army soldiers didn’t deter the fans from coming. They had to show their national identification cards and go through at least four security checkpoints, passing through metal detectors and undergoing body searches, to get to the stadium.
Throngs of fans began walking to the stadium hours before the match, their enthusiasm undimmed by the long trek to watch international cricket stars in their own backyard.
Independence Cup, whose slogan is “cricket ki halalala” will help win back the confidence of foreign teams over security concerns, pave the way for the country to host Sri Lanka for one T20 international next month followed by three T20x against the West Indies in November.
Faf du Plessis said at the toss, hoping his side’s landmark tour will prove to be a turning point for international cricket in Pakistan. While Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed also hoped for a new beginning. We are really exited said Sarfraz at the toss. A lot of players will be playing at home for the first time so the excitement is reaching its climax. Our focus is firmly on cricket and the past is the past.
Most of the fans were decked out in the green and white of Pakistan, which has played all of its major home matches in the United Arab Emirates for eight years. It’s a dream come true for Pakistan to watch favorite batsman Hashim Amla playing right in front of Pakistan Public today.
The Second game is on Wednesday and the third on Friday. We should call it Pakistan’s Cricket Day, said Amina Salahuddin wearing a green Pakistan T-Shirt. We started off at 10am but it’s worth the pain and wait.