KARACHI: The first T20 match of the three-day series between the Pakistan and West Indies national cricket teams held on Sunday at the National Stadium in Karachi concluded peacefully under the watchful eyes of thousands of law enforcers.
The city of lights hosted the first match of Pakistan-West Indies series after hosting the Pakistan Super League final just a week earlier between the two former champions Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi. Strict security arrangements were made for the final, with thousands of security personnel deployed and most roads and lanes around the stadium cordoned off. Cricket returned to the city after a nine-year hiatus – no international teams played in Karachi since the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan national team in Lahore.
The West Indies team reached Karachi amid tight security to play in the series. It was escorted to the stadium from the hotel where the players are staying with equally strict security measures.
About 8,000 police personnel, including about 900 Special Security Unit commandos and personnel from other law enforcement agencies, were on duty at the National Stadium, Karachi airport, along the main routes, in parking lots, hotels and other areas while sharp shooters were also deployed.
However, the security measures did not deter residents of the city from attending the much-anticipated match. Despite the high temperature, cricket fans started reaching the stadium at 3pm despite the fact that the match was to start at 8pm. The stadium was fully packed with spectators wearing green shirts, representing their national team.
Roads leading to the National Stadium were closed as security forces had taken strict security measures by sealing all the connecting routes by erecting barricades in order to ensure that no untoward incidents took place.
The roads were closed from Millennium Mall to Dalmia, New town to the stadium, Essa Nagri to the stadium, Karsaz to the stadium and from Hassan Square to Stadium Road. Traffic was diverted onto alternative routes and over 300 buses were used to transport spectators from the five designated parking points to the stadium. Only spectators with identity cards and tickets were allowed to enter the venue and that too after multiple security checks.
Portable toilets and big screens were also installed in the parking areas. Besides aerial surveillance and law enforcers’ deployment inside and outside the stadium, movement outside and inside the stadium was being monitored through closed-circuit television cameras.
Big screens for live match viewings were also installed in various locations.
Not only were the surroundings of the stadium covered by security personnel, police and Rangers were also seen patrolling and conducting snap-checking throughout the city on Sunday.