PSL excitement: Lahore ready to welcome international cricketers again

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The PSL matches are shifted to Pakistan. The city of Lahore is hosting two ‘elimination’ matches that a would be played at Qaddafi Stadium. (AN photo)
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A cricket fan buying a T-Shirt having logo of his favorite team from a make shift stall at a Lahore road. (AN photo)
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Proud ‘successful’ buyers showing their tickets bought to watch PSL match. (AN photo)
Updated 19 March 2018

PSL excitement: Lahore ready to welcome international cricketers again

LAHORE: Punjab’s provincial capital will welcome international cricket players arriving here on Monday to play Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches.
According to the tournament schedule, two “eliminators” will be played in Lahore before the final showdown takes place in Karachi on March 25.
Pakistani players in Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi arrived in the city on Sunday while the remaining cricketers get here on Monday.
According to Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), the commencement of matches in Lahore and Karachi is a positive sign as it will help bring back international cricket to the country.
“We are gradually moving forward,” PCB’s media manager, Raza Rashid, told Arab News. “Last year, we could only organize one match in Pakistan. However, three matches will be played here this year. This is a good sign for cricket in the country.”
People are also quite excited about the play-offs in Lahore. Many of them are anxious to welcome international players to their hometown.
“This is a delightful opportunity for the people of Pakistan to welcome some of the leading stars of international cricket. Even a small stride toward bringing cricket back to this country is extremely important,” Syed Sarim Raza, an IT expert, told Arab News.
Unlike in previous years, more international cricket players have consented to play in Pakistan this year. These include some of the leading cricketers, such as Luke Ronchi, Samit Patel, JP Duminy, Tymal Mills, Lendl Simmons and Ravi Bopara.
While Ahmad Kaleem, a resident of Lahore, is happy about the development, he wants to see these international cricketers moving in an open lorry, receiving greetings, listening to the cheerful voices of the youth, and waving back at them in return.
“I wish to see the international players moving freely on the streets of Lahore, as I saw many football players in Cardiff in Wales,” he said.
Despite such excitement in the city, young students are not happy with the PCB as they say the tickets for the two matches are quite expensive. Many of them said they wished the tickets were a little cheaper so they could have visited the stadium with their classmates.
“Pakistan is known for its hospitality and we will be welcoming all the foreign players with contagious warmth. Everything seems perfect, though PCB’s ticket issuance policy could have been better. Tickets should have been less costly and at least one or two enclosures should have had free entry for students,” Hira Rajput, a Punjab University student, said.
Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies have made foolproof security arrangements for the matches. The authorities have decided to deploy 18,000 police personnel for the security of the stadium and adjacent areas.
The city’s entry and exit points have also been well guarded, and additional Rangers and Army personnel are also on call if required.
“The police have made necessary arrangements to secure the matches and international players,” Deputy Inspector General Operations, Haider Ashraf, told Arab News.

Pakistan's Azhar Ali signs for Somerset

Pakistan's Azhar Ali celebrates reaching his century during a match between England and Pakistant on August 4, 2016. (Reuters file)
Updated 16 July 2018

Pakistan's Azhar Ali signs for Somerset

  • Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month

LONDON: Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali has joined Somerset for the remainder of their first-class English County Championship fixtures this season, the southwest club said Monday.

The 33-year-old replaces Australia opener Matt Renshaw, who made three hundreds at 51.30 in the opening rounds of the Championship before breaking a finger against Surrey at Guildford last month.

Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month.

"The standard of first-class cricket in England is very high and I hope that I can make a contribution to Somerset winning matches," Azhar told his new county's website.

"I have heard good things about Somerset and I was impressed by what I saw at Taunton in 2016 (when Pakistan opened their tour of England that year against the county).

"I am looking forward to joining my new team mates and meeting the Somerset supporters soon."

Azhar struggled during Pakistan's three Tests against Ireland and England earlier this season, making 73 runs in six innings although his lone fifty did come during Pakistan's impressive victory over England at Lord's.

"Finding the right fit at short notice can be challenging, however we are delighted to have secured a player of Azhar Ali's character, pedigree and class for the remaining seven Specsavers County Championship matches," said Somerset's director of cricket, Andy Hurry.

"His experience at the top of the order will prove to be hugely valuable at the business end of the season.

"I have spoken to him several times over the last few weeks and he is very keen to share his knowledge of the game with our aspirational players, so the influence he can have within the changing room will also be vital for us as a club."