ISLAMABAD - Former Test cricketer Iqbal Qasim has said that holding eight matches of Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2019 in Karachi is the best gift for the long-suffering fans of the city and it will help in bringing full-fledged international cricket to Pakistan.

Talking to The Nation, Qasim said that the way crowds are thronging the stadium is a clear indication that Pakistan is a peaceful and sports-loving country. “The way the international mega stars have turned up in huge numbers shows that they believe in security being provided to them and the way they were welcomed by Pakistani people, they would never forget that hospitality, care and love.”

“The entire Pakistani nation is grateful to Darren Sammy, who always stood by Pakistan cricket and also time-to-time paid visit to different cities of the country. He always speaks very positive and remains very passionate about Pakistani people. He also paid visit to shrine of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, a gesture which can never be forgotten.”

Qasim said he feels that it is right time for PCB to conduct entire PSL-5 in Pakistan. “The real charm of the league is in hosting it entirely in the country. For PSL-4, Karachi is decorated with large size hoardings of local as well as international players. The way first few PSL-4 matches were held at the National Stadium, which remained jam-packed, is a clear indication that Pakistanis want full-fledged international cricket back to the country. The credit goes to government, PCB and armed forces, who ensured the matches to go ahead as per announced schedule.”

He said the PCB should now decide on future of PSL. “PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani must meet with PM and start comprehensive planning for the next edition as the entire country wants complete PSL-5 in Pakistan. Now security is much better and it is right of every Pakistani to witness international players in action at their own backyard.”

On team selection, Qasim said: “Providing chances to the youngsters is a good omen, but Australian team is coming after playing tough and competitive cricket against India. We have selected a relatively inexperienced side while regular skipper Sarfraz Ahmed is missing which is a huge gamble by the selectors.

“If Sarfraz was to be given rest, at least he should have been with the team and sit in the dressing room to monitor the situation of fresh legs, because he is the one, who will take part in selecting final squad for the coming World Cup. Our team is not looking good enough to pose serious challenge to Australia, which have bright chances to win the ODI series,” he concluded.