RAWALPINDI -  Islamabad United will play exhibition match against Quetta Gladiators on February 15 at Pindi Cricket Stadium to shoot up Pakistan Super League (PSL) fever among the masses.

Islamabad United owner Ali Naqvi, along with United skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, Quetta Gladiators’ Moin Khan, HBL representative Naveed Asghar, announced this during a mismanaged press conference held at Pindi Stadium on Wednesday. Like witnessed in the past, United made tall claims to involve twin cities’ masses and sports journalists and not to repeat past mistakes, but they never lived up to their promises.

A non-professional person was hired by United to deal with media at Islamabad, who, instead of doing his duty, remained busy in appeasing his near and dear ones. It was first announced that questions would be asked from front row and everyone would be given chance, but he allowed only a few certain journalists while the rest of the journalists left the venue with their queries unanswered. There were also no proper seating arrangements and despite repeated requests being made to the organisers, nothing in practical was done.

Ali said it would be very first time in the PSL history that two teams would be playing against each other to create festivity for local spectators. Although he announced that the tickets would be available for the spectators at the main points, but he didn’t reveal the exact prices and venues, where these tickets would be available.

To a query regarding announcing free entry for masses to make the venue jam-packed, Ali said: “The expenditures would be more than the sponsorship, anyhow, I promise to look into the issue. I would try to announce free entry at few stands or may be at the entire venue, but it depends, as first, I will check the situation and then announce the exact nature.” In their last event, many of the sports journalists were not provided accreditation cards. Ali promised that this wouldn’t happen this time.

When asked how many local players would be part of United and what happened to talent hunt started by them, Ali replied: “Shadab Khan was part of United and now emerging talent Rohail Nazir is also onboard. We got 35,000 youngsters from trials at Pindi Stadium and they were divided into different teams. Their data has been completed and the best among them would be made part of United in future.”

Sharing his views, Quetta Gladiators’ Moin Khan said: “The match would be a good opportunity for both the teams and the spectators of twin cities. I have also proposed the second match between the two teams in Quetta, which Ali has very kindly accepted. The details of the match will be announced later. It is our national responsibility to give Quetta and Balochistan what they deserve. The match would be held after PSL-3. We will talk to all stakeholders and off course, army’s help would also be sought to conduct the match.”

Moin said next year, Quetta Gladiators would also start their talent hunt programme and youth would be involved in it. He said he, along with Abdul Razzaq and Misbah, would be the part of the exhibition match and he is very excited to play again after a long time.”

Ali said there are always two aspects of business. “Popularity wise, the PSL is a huge success, while as far as its financial aspect is concerned, we attain a lot from it. Off course, one should not expect profits from the very first edition, but we are quite satisfied and want to give people healthy cricket and to involve them as much as we can. We will soon start cricket matches at different venues of Islamabad and Rawalpindi and we want to provide youth a platform to excel at higher level.”

Islamabad United skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, while commenting on his team, said he is very satisfied with his team combination. “Changes are made in every team and we picked the best team according to situation and hopefully, they will deliver well.”

When asked about Wasim’s departure and Waqar’s arrival, he replied: “Both are cricket greats of Pakistan. I don’t see any major difference between the two legends. I feel Waqar is more demanding and he is more involved with the team and taking keen interest. Hopefully, we will benefit from his vast experience and his presence will boost the United a great deal.”

Quetta Gladiators owner Nadeem Omar was notable absentee and when asked about his absence, it was informed that he had some important assignments, so he could not turn up, but he would visit Rawalpindi and Islamabad soon.

 

 

 

MOHSIN ALI