International cricket is coming home with the tour of World XI. It’s definitely great news for all; be it cricket fans who have been missing seeing Team Green live in action or young cricketers who never had the opportunity to play in front of the home crowd.
The national cricket team will face off World XI in a three-match T20I series at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. The first T20I of the three-match series is taking place tonight. The second and third T20Is will be played on September 13 and 15, respectively.
While the revival of the international cricketing is welcoming as it will open doors for international teams to visit the country and help present a soft image of Pakistan, the cost that the business community is paying to host these matches in Punjab’s provincial capital is something that cannot be overlooked.
According to reports, authorities have forced businesses in the surroundings of the Gaddafi Stadium to close down for four days. Further, residents and shop owners in the area have also been asked to sign a surety bond stating that they will not let “miscreants” use their properties for subversive activities.
Efforts were made to contact DIG Operations Dr Haider Ashraf to comment on the issue but he did not respond.
One of the entrepreneurs who have been hit hard by the closure is Monis Rahman, founder and CEO of Rozee.pk. Rahman, whose office is located on Main Boulevard Gulberg, Lahore, was forced to find alternative accommodation for his 150 employees on a day’s notice.
“We are delighted to contribute by shutting down our offices for four days, displacing 150 employees and finding last minute accommodation and network connectivity for them at three different premises by begging, borrowing and pleading with friends,” said Rozee.pk CEO in a Facebook post on Monday.
One of three places where Rozee.pk relocated its Lahore staff was Rahman’s residence, from where the company started.
Reports suggest that the government’s decision to completely lockdown the adjoining areas of the stadium was taken considering the incident that took place during the Zimbabwe’s tour of Pakistan in 2015. At least two people were killed as a result of a blast near Gaddafi Stadium during a Pakistan-Zimbabwe cricket match in 2015; though police insisted the explosion was accidental.
While expressing his support for international cricket matches being hosted in the country, Rahman in a video posted on his Facebook profile said, “…we support having international games played in Pakistan, but [it] certainly could have been done in a better way, could have been done in a less disruptive way where it didn’t have impacted the shops and businesses and traffic.”
Businesses operating in Pakistan make contingency plans for all sorts of scenarios ranging from terrorist attacks to earthquakes, he said adding that “the last thing we expected to plan for was the government forcing our offices shut for four days because of a cricket match around the corner”.
On a lighter note, Rahman hoped that Pakistan better win the match especially after all that people had to suffer. “We better win that cricket match, otherwise I’m gonna be even more upset.”
With additional input from Muhammad Shehzad