Waleed Bukhatir
Waleed Bukhatir Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Sharjah: The historic Sharjah Cricket Stadium has increased its seating capacity after taking into consideration the huge turnout for the matches held last season. The stadium management has increased the seats by 3,000 for the oncoming Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches, starting on February 20.

Speaking to Gulf News, Waleed Bukhatir remarked: “The stadium has a long history and an atmosphere that leaves an indelible mark in the minds of the fans. This is the reason why all formats of the game have been held here successfully. We want to accommodate more fans and so we have spruced up the stadium.”

The major refurbishment has been made to the popular North Stand as the stadium will be hosting PSL’s eight matches and the fans will get to watch all six participating teams.

Sharjah Stadium, which has clinched a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for hosting the maximum number of One Day Internationals (ODI) in the world, will be expanding further.

“This is part of the revamping and development plan of the stadium. Abdul Rahman Bukhatir (who built the stadium to bring international cricket) is monitoring the development plans,” said Waleed Bukhatir, who is also Vice-Chairman of the Sharjah Cricket Club that owns the stadium.

Elaborating on the stadium’s expansion, Waleed said: “A specially designed and outfitted media lounge will also be functional during the PSL. The VIP area has also been refurbished for the event, including the health club and indoor pool located in the stadium premises. For us at Sharjah this is the fourth decade of promoting cricket in the region and our aim has been to invite the best of the world to enjoy the magic of Sharjah.”

Sharjah Cricket Club General Manager Mazhar Khan, who is ensuring that the forthcoming edition of PSL is as exciting, told Gulf News: “From 14,000 seats, the stadium will now accommodate 17,000 fans. The groundstaff are ensuring the pitches will be conducive to big T20 scores and give fans their money’s worth.”

The Sharjah fans are delighted that Shahid Afridi will be back again. Afridi, who entertained fans through Peshawar Zalmi and Karachi Kings teams in earlier editions, will be part of the sixth team, which is yet to be named. The other top stars who will be in action in Sharjah are South Africa’s AB de Villiers of South Africa, West Indies’ Daren Sammy, Sunil Narine and Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and all the top Pakistan players.