Club owners term int’l cricket catalyst for domestic game

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LAHORE: The passion and enthusiasm of people were extremely high as the first T20 of a three-match series between Pakistan and World XI kicked off at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium on Tuesday.

Although, commuters on the roads faced severe traffic problems because of the closure of roads leading towards the stadium, cricket spectators and owners of different cricket clubs said that the three-match series between Pakistan and World XI would definitely help in reviving the international cricket in Pakistan.

The Gaddafi stadium, which has a capacity of nearly 30,000 spectators, was jam-packed as people along with their families and friends thronged to the stadium to welcome as many as 14 international players who are in Lahore at the moment to play the three-match T20 series.

Oman Saleem, a cricket lover was excited to watch the match despite the fact that it took him nearly an hour to find the designated parking lot for his vehicle because of an extreme rush surrounding the stadium. “This series is a good omen for the revival of international cricket in Pakistan and I am so excited to watch my favorite cricketer Hashim Amla play,” Oman said. He further added that he came here with his six friends and they all purchased the ticket of Rs 500 through black market at the price of 3000 because of the shortage of tickets. The issues of traffic would be resolved gradually when international matches would become a routine matter in Pakistan in the future as other teams like Sri Lanka and West Indies are also ready to visit the country, he added.

Tauqeer Shah, who runs the ‘Wahdat Eaglets Cricket Club’ in Lahore, told this scribe that the international cricket will be an inspiration for the aspiring young club cricketers who have natural talent in abundance. “If the club cricketers will not watch the international cricket in their own stadiums, then their natural talent will die automatically and it is my request to Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) not to stop such initiatives in the future,” Shah said, whose club has produced several test cricketers including the current national team player Babar Azam.

Waqar-ul-Munir, who has been organising domestic cricket tournaments for decades in Lahore, told Pakistan Today that domestic and international cricket are interlinked with each other and the promotion of one type of cricket is mandatory for the other. “I organise the Siddique Memorial Cup, Tauseef Trophy and Yasin Akhtar Memorial Cup regularly which are 15, 21 and 33 years old respectively in Lahore; the domestic players of Pakistan badly reminisce the international cricket in the country but it is now evident that the time is not so far when the cricket grounds of Pakistan would also host the international players,” Munir said.

Muhammad Shahbaz, another club owner who runs Golden Star Club in Lahore said that the players of his club are extremely excited for the revival of international cricket as the people of Pakistan have defied terrorism by coming in the Gaddafi Stadium during the final of Pakistan Super League (PSL) and today in the match of Pakistan vs World XI.

Three T20 matches will be played between Pakistan and World XI in which 14 international players from 7 test-playing countries are also participating.