You had 10 years to prepare for October 30, 2019. The world was watching, holding their breath, as international cricket returned to Pakistan. After 10 years an ODI was being played in the country, in Karachi.
Earlier, you had the time to do demo runs. Zimbabwe came, West Indies and Sri Lanka did. The World XI visited too. The Pakistan Super League matches and tournament’s finals took place here too.
This was the time to send a message to the world, the moment where Pakistan had to shine and scream out loud that we are ready. But instead it was all doom and gloom in Karachi when the second ODI took place on Monday, instead of the previously scheduled Sunday.
The first ODI was cancelled due to legitimate reasons. Too much rain had brought the city to a standstill, no doubt in that. However, the water situation in the ground showed the world how inept you had become in handling uncalled-for situations. The world saw a lack of contingency planning. It even saw the clumsy pre-planning done by you.
The marketing for the series was lacking. Apart from one or two billboards, there was nothing to tell the Karachiites that they are hosting an international team in the National Stadium of Karachi. After the cancellation of the first ODI, miniature flags of Pakistan and Sri Lanka were seen on the lightpoles on Shahrah-e-Faisal — something which highlighted how unprepared the city administration and the PCB were to host Sri Lanka for ODIs in the financial capital of the country.
But the world was forgiving, and the Pakistani crowd was equally merciful.
They came in on Monday to celebrate the return of international cricket. They were hungry for some good sporting action. They knew Pakistan would walk over their second-string opponents but still they cheered every boundary and every wicket like it was a match-defining moment.
But once again the PCB made sure they made a statement which worked against them rather than in their favour.
The floodlights faltered on, as per an audience member’s counting, three occasions.
While the crowd still cheered and hooted during the avoidable occurrence, the world found just another reason to say no to visiting Pakistan.
Earlier, the visiting teams demanded safety assurances and the city’s residents gave up their comfort for the return of international cricket, but now both parties will have something to say on the matter.
Firstly, the preparations done for the series have become a laughing matter. The rain-wrecked stadium will remain a hot topic till the end of the Sri Lanka series and afterwards as well. Secondly, how do you expect to attract crowds if they feel unsafe during rains, and now when the match was interrupted again and again due to the floodlights situation?
It is time, respected PCB, you start focusing on troubleshooting administrative problems in the international cricket grounds, since you believe you have already aced the safety and security test.