Pakistan pulled out all the stops to successfully hold the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final in the provincial metropolis of Lahore. Security presence was ramped up significantly, after a spate of bombings rocked some parts of the country in February. There was also apprehension that terrorists, who have managed to pull off devastating strikes in the past, might strike during the final between Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators. However, foolproof security by the authorities and an enthusiastic show of support by people (it was a full house at the Gaddafi Stadium), revived the attempt to bring high-profile cricket, involving some overseas players, back to Pakistan.
Two years back, the Zimbabwe cricket team toured Pakistan for a limited-overs series, but even with massive security measures in place for that visit, a blast at a checkpoint near a stadium killed two people. That, and an overall grim security situation in the country, meant that international cricket stayed away from Pakistan for better part of the decade.
As cricketing culture continued to suffer in the country, the Pakistan Cricket Board, with full support from the government, took the decision of holding the PSL final in the country. Unprecedented security measures were undertaken to ensure that the sporting event passed off smoothly even as critics questioned the wisdom of holding the event under the given circumstances.
Be that as it may, the game went on without a hitch, sending out a strong message that the country’s security situation has improved and the recent bout of violence was a temporary blip. It also signalled a massive yearning in Pakistan for international sporting events. PSL final in Lahore may just be a step in that direction.