KARACHI: Quetta gladiators, Pakistan Super League champions, were given a warm reception in the team’s home city in the southwestern province of Balochistan on Saturday, after they beat runners-up Peshawar Zalmi in the final match played in Karachi last week.
Thousands of cricket fans joined members of the civil and military leadership amid heightened security in a rare celebration at Quetta’s Polo Ground organized by the provincial government complete with fireworks and the distribution of hefty cash prizes.
“The people of the city were eagerly waiting to meet their players,” said Balochistan’s Chief Minister, Jam Kamal Khan, who was joined by commander of southern command, Lt General Asim Saleem Bajwa and the team owner, Nadeem Omar.
Quetta Gladiators have been a part of the six-team Twenty20 cricket league known as Pakistan Super League since its first edition in 2016 and were favorites to win every year, though this is their first victory.
“This win is great news for Quetta city and the people of Balochistan,” Khan said. “Your victory was warmly celebrated in every town and city of Balochistan.”
Team owner Nadeem Omar also announced the opening of a cricket academy in Quetta, so local players could get training and the chance to be included in their home team.
Critics have in the past criticized PSL franchises for not including enough local talent in their teams, with not a single native player from conflict-ridden Balochistan a part of the Quetta-based squad.
Team captain Sarfraz Ahmed who sported a military jacket and cap on the occasion, said meeting local fans was memorable for him.
“The way the people across Balochistan celebrated our victory in PSL has given us a lot of happiness,” he said. “This fan base in home city matters a lot to us,” the skipper said.