ISLAMABAD - Former Test cricketer Iqbal Qasim has said that holding Pakistan Super League (PSL) final in Karachi will put a new lease of life in the long-suffering youth of the city of lights, who were deprived of international cricket for many years.

Talking to The Nation, Iqbal Qsim, who also Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief selector, said: “It is highly positive and welcoming step taken by PCB chairman Najam Sethi to allocate the PSL final to Karachi. The PSL final was played in Lahore last year and this year, two eliminators were also conducted there, but Karachi, which is the largest city of the country, commercial hub and home of top class national players, had been suffering since long.

“I feel the environment and crowd presence in the National Stadium will be second to none. The way youth and families come in huge numbers to support even Ramzan cricket and club matches is well-known to all and holding the grand PSL final, it is hard to describe in words. Being a Karachiite, I can feel the happiness, joy and the festivity, the city is under grip.

“Ever since, the PCB chairman has announced that Karachi is hosting the final, tickets were sold out in hardly a matter of time, despite the fact that Karachi Kings and even Quetta Gladiators, which are considered as the local teams, couldn’t make way to the final, even then the stadium will be pack to capacity. Although there might not be same zeal and noise, which Karachi or Quetta teams could have enjoyed, yet the stadium would erupt with huge noise and spectators would turn up in huge numbers to support Pakistan cricket,” he added.

As many as 24 international stars had arrived in Pakistan for eliminators and the final, which was never witnessed since long. Qasim extended his thanks to all the visiting international players and also gave credit to the PCB chairman. “Credit goes to PCB chief Najam Sethi and all others, who are involved in the process. The return of international cricket is a welcoming sign for people and youth of Karachi and soon after the PSL final, the city is all set to host West Indies cricket team. The present PCB management and especially Sethi is very serious about Karachi and the youth of this city, that’s why he allocated grand final and the West Indies matches to Karachi,” he added.

The former chief selector said that the way the stadium is being renovated and roads are decorated, it is giving bridal look to the city. “I want to give credit to provincial government as well, as without their support and hard work, the stadium couldn’t have been under such shape, while they have worked tirelessly to ensure the National Stadium and adjacent areas get ready for the mega final and the West Indies series. “Being a resident of Karachi, I can feel that each and every citizen of the city is thrilled with the opportunity to witness international and national heroes playing in front of them. It will further boost the morale and confidence of the local players and just like Shadab Khan, Ibtesham Sheikh, Hassan Khan and M Nawaz, the PSL will get more young faces form Karachi, who will serve the national team for the years to come,” he added.

He promised to give warm welcome to all the visiting players and officials. “I along with other greats will be at the stadium to welcome all the respected guests and players. I can assure all the international players and foreign guests, whether they are commentators, match officials or anyone else, they will remember the hospitality and love, they will get from the people of Karachi and cherish those moments for the rest of their lives.

“I am sure that the arrival of foreign players will also help Pakistan cricket a great deal, as upon their return to their respective countries, they will tell about the exact state of Pakistan and also tell them that Pakistan is a safe place to host all kinds of the international sports activities. They will also never forget friendly people of Pakistan and their love, respect and hospitality being rendered to them during the PSL matches, Qasim concluded.