Curtains fell on the HBL Pakistan Super League 2019 during a simple but impressive and star-filled closing ceremony that was attended by Chief Minister of Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah, and Chairman PCB Ehsan Mani.
The ceremony was kept at a low note as spectators, players and officials observed a one-minute silence for all those who lost their lives in heinous attacks on the mosques on Friday in Christchurch in New Zealand.
The first 26 matches of the HBL PSL season four were played in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, while the last eight matches were held in Karachi.
The “city of lights”, as Karachi is fondly called, reverberated with songs and chants from the spectators during the week-long spectacle, declared as “the week of cricket festival” by the Sindh government. The theme of these matches was “I love cricket”.
The closing ceremony had light music with famous folk singer Abrar-ul-Haq, the Junoon Group, Fawad Khan and Sahir Ali Bagga performing.
Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani welcomed the packed 32,000 crowd.
“We are ready for the final,” said Mr Mani. “Around 250,000 people have watched the matches in the stadium in the last week and millions on television.
“One should remember that its cricket which brings happiness.
“We thank the government of Pakistan, our armed forces and government of Sindh for helping us stage these matches.”
Mr Mani thanked all the 39 foreign players who visited Karachi for the final leg of the tournament, saying: “I would like to thank all the foreign players and officials. You have seen for yourself the passion of people here and we hope to see you for all the HBL PSL matches in Pakistan next year,” said Mr Mani.
Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, also vowed to bring international cricket back in Pakistan after the successful staging of the PSL finals for two years.
“Two years ago, I promised that we will bring the PSL matches to Karachi,” said Mr Shah. “Last year, we hosted the final and this year we staged eight matches here.
“I salute the fans of Karachi who despite all problems helped us stage the final.
“The government of Sindh will strive for the return of international cricket in Pakistan and that too will start from Karachi.
“I thank all the foreign players for visiting Karachi and, in the end, I would say whoever wins the final, cricket will be the winner, people of Karachi will be the winner and Pakistan will be the winner,” said Mr Shah.
Former Spain football captain Carles Puyol, on a football promotion tour of Pakistan, also attended the closing ceremony as a special guest.
“Thank you Pakistan for this amazing welcome,” said Puyol to the packed stadium. “I know people here love cricket, but they also love football.”
Pakistan and Quetta Gladiators captain Sarfaraz Ahmed said the people have sent a clear message to the world.
“I thank the crowd for coming in big numbers,” said Sarfaraz. “People have sent a clear message that Pakistan love cricket and it is safe for cricket.