LAHORE, FEB 26 (DNA) : The HBL Pakistan Super League-V cricket action has moved to Multan now, and for the first time since its start, a Twenty20 cricket match between Multan Sultans and Peshawar Zalmi teams will be played under lights at the Multan Cricket Stadium on Wednesday, Feb 26.
The stadium is the home ground of Multan Sultans and the Sultans will play three matches of their campaign at the venue on Feb 26, 28 and 29 during the 5th edition of the HBL PSL.
The Multan Cricket Stadium is located in the outskirts of the historic City of Saints and was constructed in the year 2001 to replace the old Qasim Bagh Cricket Stadium – located in the heart of the densely populated city. The old stadium still hosts cricket and football matches, but it is not suitable for international competitions.
The Multan Cricket Stadium was not in a pristine condition as no international cricket was played at the venue since Pakistan cricket went into the wilderness after Sri Lankan cricket team came under terrorist attack outside Gaddafi Stadium Lahore in March 2009. It will be for the first time that international cricketers perform at the Multan Stadium, as the last international match was an ODI played between Pakistan and Bangladesh teams in April 2008.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), in anticipation of the return of international cricket and the PSL to the cricket-mad country, started the renovation and up-gradation of the stadium in 2018 and turned it into a picturesque venue with a lot of changes. The PCB spent over Rs 2 billion on the makeover and up-gradation of the Multan and Pindi cricket stadiums. (Pindi Cricket Stadium is the home ground of Islamabad United and will host eight HBL PSL V matches).
The stadium boasts to be the largest cricket stadium in the country with a capacity of 24,800 spectators while National Stadium Karachi and Gaddafi stadium Lahore can host 23,000 and 22,000 spectators, respectively.
Grass has been re-laid at the Multan Cricket Stadium which gives it a lush-green look and distinguishes it from its peers in the country. One of the conspicuous features of the stadium is a closer view of the players for the fans due to lesser distance between the seats and the playing area.
Besides many innovations at the Multan Cricket Stadium, fully furnished media boxes have been installed at the new-look stadium to facilitate the media persons and the broadcasters with state-of-the-art facilities.
Former captain and Pakistan head coach legendary Inzamam-ul-Haq, who hails from Multan, has termed the initiative historic. He said the conduct of the HBL PSL V matches at the lone cricket stadium of international standard in the southern Punjab will go a long way in promotion of cricket in the region, adding that it would emerge as the home to whet skills of the budding cricketers.
The HBL PSL V match between Multan Sultans and Peshawar Zalmi at the Multan Stadium marks the beginning of a new era of cricket – a sport the Pakistanis are madly in love with – in Pakistan.
The local team is also expected to pull the largest crowds with more home-crowd advantage for the Multan Sultans as was hoped Sultans skipper Shan Masood in an earlier press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium.