DUBAI – The HBL PSL 2017 management organised a ‘meet and greet’ to welcome the foreign players and coaches for the second edition of the tournament that gets underway on Thursday.
Chairman PSL Najam Sethi welcomed foreigners and thanked them for their participation in the league; Mr Sethi also briefed the gathering about the security plans that are being put in place to ensure a memorable final of the tournament at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on March 5.
“Giles Clarke (Chairman England Cricket Board) and his team visited Lahore last month and were hugely impressed by the security arrangements we made at the stadium and the National Cricket Academy (NCA). The government has also made a massive investment in securing the city and rest assured we will provide foolproof security to the players who will travel for the PSL final.
Additionally, we also have internationally reputed security consultants who will go to Dubai in the coming days to allay the doubts and fears of the players. We will provide detailed briefings in the days ahead and the players who travel for the final will be making a monumental contribution for passionate followers of the game in the country.”
Brand ambassador of HBL PSL 2017, former Pakistan captain and renowned commentator Ramiz Raja also spoke to the audience. A resident of Lahore; Ramiz briefed the players about the prevailing situation in the city.
“Lahore is a beautiful city, the perceptions about the place might be muddled, but I can assure you that the players who will travel will be making a priceless contribution to Pakistan cricket. Once you taste the flavour of cricket in the country, you will come to realise how welcoming the crowds are. I am hoping that cricket can be brought back to Pakistan, it will be a tremendous contribution to the emotions of the cricket fans in the country.”
Legendary cricketer and brand ambassador of HBL PSL 2017 and Wasim Akram spoke about the importance of the return of international cricket in Pakistan.
“Growing up I saw legends like Michael Holding, Sunil Gavaskar, etc. play in the stadiums in the flesh which was hugely inspiring. It is imperative that cricket returns to the country, Pakistanis are passionate about the game, my wife who is an Australian is staying in Karachi for the last four years, and she is having a very good time. Let me also remind you all that the government will do everything possible to ensure the safety of the players.”
Akram reminded the audience about the 1996 World Cup when the security situation in Sri Lanka was challenging enough for West Indies and Australia to forfeit their matches in Colombo. A team comprising of six-star players each from Pakistan and India travelled to the country to play a solidarity match and change perceptions.
“We played a positive role in 1996 that was warmly welcomed in Sri Lanka. Trust me, the foreigners who travel to Lahore for the final will be given heroic status in the country, and their contribution will be remembered by Pakistanis for a long time, the passionate followers of the game will be hugely welcoming and thankful.”
The owner of the Karachi Kings franchise Salman Iqbal and all-rounder Shoaib Malik also spoke to the audience and assured them that Lahore was a safe venue, and each franchise owner and management will do everything possible to ensure the safety of the players travelling for the final.