ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Ehsan Mani Wednesday congratulated all participants, officials, local administration and security agencies on the successful completion of the HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 on Tuesday under the National Stadium floodlights.
While an empty National Stadium for the playoffs took the gloss away from the first homecoming event that saw nearly 600,000 spectators cross turnstiles in the 30 league matches (last four league matches were played behind closed doors after the Covid-19 outbreak in Pakistan) before the event was suspended on 17 March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, there was no doubt that the HBL Pakistan Super League 2000 had been an outstanding success given the very difficult circumstances.
The two Karachi Kings versus Lahore Qalandars’ home and away preliminary round matches at the National and Gaddafi Stadium were packed-to-capacity as the fans thronged the two iconic and historic venues to watch the oldest rivalry in Pakistan cricket.
PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani in a statement said: “I had promised following the HBL Pakistan Super League 2019 that the 2020 edition will be held in Pakistan from start to finish. I reiterated this when the event was suspended prior to the playoff stage, and despite several challenges, uncertainties and doubts, I am delighted that the PCB has fulfilled another commitment and promise to the loyal and passionate Pakistan cricket fans and supporters.
“But at the same time, I am sad that Karachi Kings had to make history before an empty National Stadium. This great game is all about fans and their absence was badly missed by all of us, including the players and match officials. We can only visualise the celebrations and a festive occasion this final would have created, only if the situation was normal.
“I have been overwhelmed and touched by the fans’ support and appreciation who followed action on television and live-streaming, and took to the social media proactively and with great enthusiasm to contribute in enhancing the reputation and image of the country through positive and sporting posts and engagements. This was just another example of no matter what, you cannot take cricket out of the lives and systems of the Pakistan fans.
“With the Covid-19 situation being an evolving one, the PCB will continue to monitor it and work with the authorities to explore ways of allowing fans to attend matches when international cricket and HBL Pakistan Super League matches are held in 2021.
“The fans’ following, interest and enthusiasm of the Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars final also reflected the value and importance of inter-city matches, something we are on course of rolling out at the City Cricket Association level. Pakistan is lucky to have separate city-based and Cricket Association-based competitions as we aim to make these brands stronger and more popular.
“I also want to offer my wholehearted thanks to the Sindh government and the local security agencies who continued their support of Pakistan cricket by helping in the successful delivery of the playoffs. I also want to offer my gratitude to the local and provincial administrations of other provinces who stood behind us in the preliminary stage matches, which were the cornerstone of the playoffs in Karachi.
“The visiting players were once again appreciative of the way they were looked after and I am sure following these playoff matches, we have added more ambassadors of Pakistan cricket.“Not many will know, understand and recognise the efforts and hard work of the PCB staff, who have worked incredibly hard to demonstrate to the world that Pakistan can organise and deliver high-quality cricket successfully despite the challenging and difficult Covid-19 situation.
“The PCB has already delivered more than 55 per cent of a full domestic season, while the home international series against Zimbabwe was smooth and flawless.
“I remain confident that the PCB will succeed in completing the 2020-21 domestic season. We look forward to hosting South Africa under the Future Tours Programme agreement in January/February 2021 and leading international cricketers will also return to feature in the HBL Pakistan Super League 2021, which will be played at the back of the home series against South Africa.
“I want to thank all the foreign stars who arrived in Karachi for the playoffs. This not only reflected the stature and value of the HBL Pakistan Super League, but also their loyalty and commitment to their sides.
“As for the local players, it has not been an easy time since the start of the season on 30 September as they have continued to remain in the bio-secure bubble. I know this requires a lot of mental toughness and extra efforts to remain in a restricted environment, take the field almost every day and then produce strong performances. The sacrifices they are making will only contribute in helping them become stronger and tougher professional athletes.
“Lastly, I want to thank all the PCB’s commercial partners, particularly Habib Bank Limited, for their continued patronage and support, as well as the media, who dedicated big spaces in their newspapers and allocated airtime in their prime bulletins and space on their digital platforms to highlight and promote the HBL Pakistan Super League, which continues to strengthen its reputation, credibility and following with every match.”