KARACHI - Curtains fell on the Pakistan Super League 2019 during a simple but star-filled closing ceremony that was attended by Chief Minister of Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah, and Chairman PCB Ehsan Mani.

The ceremony was kept at a low note as spectators, players and officials observed a one-minute silence for all those who lost their lives in the heinous attacks on the mosques on Friday in Christchurch in New Zealand. 

The “city of lights”, as Karachi is fondly called, reverberated with songs and chants from the spectators during the week-long spectacle, declared as “the week of cricket festival” by the Sindh government. The theme of these matches was “I love cricket”. The closing ceremony had light music with famous singer Abrar-ul-Haq, Junoon, Fawad Khan featuring Young Desi, Aima Baig and Shuja Haider and Sahir Ali Bagga performing.

It was festivity all around and all roads leading towards stadium were witnessed pack with massive crowds. However, genuine ticket-holders including families had to face the usual police high-handedness. Sindh police created every possible hurdle in smooth functioning of affairs as they were trying their level best to ensure, the masses had to suffer grave miseries before they make their path towards the National Stadium.

There was pack to capacity crowd inside the stadium and more than that was witnessed outside the stadium as youngsters and families were trying to get tickets but had to face huge disappointment as tickets were only available in the black market. Rs 500 general stand was up for grab in between Rs 3000 to Rs 5000.

The black market also witnessed a surge in sale of complementary passes issued by the PCB and on the other hand PCB’s media department gave an unceremonious snub to sports journalists as they were not issued a single free pass. Only a few blue-eyed journalists who are near to newly appointed PCB director media Sami-ul-Hassan Burni enjoyed all the passes dedicated for the media by the PCB . Majority of sports journalists, who travelled from different parts of the country just to cover the final, were not even given car parking stickers and despite repeated attempts to contact PCB media department officials to get car parking stickers no one bothered to attend the call. It is high time, PM Imran Khan, who had raised the slogan of no favoritism and equal treatment to all must take notice of the highly step-motherly treatment rendered by the PCB media department to senior sports journalists, who had paid from their own pockets to send a positive message to international community. The PM must order inquiry into how many complementary passes were issued by the PCB and its media department and to whom persons as sale of the free passes in black market put a question mark on the honesty of these PCB officials.

The media department even issued accreditation cards in bulks to those, who were hardly seen in the field or cover sports beat and also they facilitated their near and dear ones in guise of fake websites.

The massive crowd only added fun and festivity to the occasion. The crowd gave standing ovation to South African great Johnty Rhodes, who started his pitch report with Assalam o Alaykum in Urdu and wore traditional Pakistani Shalwar Kameez suit. Different international cricketers, including Watson, Bravo and others express their views. They all thanked Karachi and the PCB for excellent hospitality and promised to come again and again.

The crowd also gave a huge applause to former Spain football captain Carles Puyol who also attended the closing ceremony as a special guest. “Thank you Pakistan for this amazing welcome,” said Puyol to the packed stadium. “I know people here love cricket, but they also love football.”

There was also a family, who travelled from abroad to witness the final. Sharing their views 8-year-old Khawaja Ahmed Bilal, who is a die-hard Islamabad United supporter said: “It is life-time experience. I am glad my dad, who had played cricket took us to the ground. Despite my favorite team is out of the PSL final, I am still here to support Pakistan cricket and I love Zalmi and want them to lift the title.”

While sharing his views Umar, who is just 7, said he supports Gladiators and frankly whichever team won, I don’t mind, as it is Pakistan and cricket, which is ultimate winner.