February 22, 1974 saw Lahore host leaders from most of the Muslim world invited to the summit of Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The summit was presided over by Pakistan’s first democratically-elected Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister ended his speech in honor of the Libyan leader, proclaiming that: “We heard President Colonel Qaddafi speak in his own stadium, in front of his own people.” In that deft move, the Lahore Cricket Stadium had been renamed Col. Muammar Qaddafi Cricket Stadium.
Designed by architect Nasreddin Murat Khan and completed by Abdul Khaliq and Company in 1959, the Gaddafi stadium has been host to the offices of the Pakistan Cricket Board; is the home of the country’s biggest cricket academy, the National Cricket Academy; and has witnessed 103 international matches. From hosting Australia in its first test back in 1959 to hosting the same in the World Cup final in 1996 against Sri Lanka, and most recently Zimbabwe in May 2015; the red-bricked walls of the stadium have seen their fair share of thrill, emotion, nervousness and apprehension. The stadium was renovated before the World Cup in 1996, focusing mainly on the expansion of the general stands and the creation of halls and shops under the outer wall to generate more revenue.
Qaddafi Stadium back in 1959
The stadium also hosted the first ever recognized Twenty-20 played in Pakistan despite the fact that college boys and the working class in Karachi had been playing the format after their work hours many years before its inception in 2003. A hat-trick, a five-for and a century on the first day of Twenty-20 cricket’s official introduction to Pakistan proved that this format was well-suited to the Pakistani style and attitude of living-on-the-edge cricket.
The stadium is now all set to crowd a T20I series against World XI, the successful conduct of which should hopefully open the floodgates of international cricket in Pakistan. Given that momentous occasion, let’s take a comprehensive look at the past trends and statistics from the previous matches played at this grand old stadium.
Count down for the Independence Cup begins
Ever since the first T20 between Multan Tigers and Karachi Zebras, the Gaddafi stadium has staged a whopping 111 twenty20s – the third-most by any ground in the world. The Shere Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka has hosted 175 T20 matches while the National Stadium, Karachi has hosted 127 twenty-20 matches.
The Gaddafi Stadium pitch has always suited batsmen. It has been a paradise for batsmen who have found it easy to score runs both with bowlers getting close to no help from the hot weather. The day temperatures can raise up to the high 40s (Celsius) during the long summers. Fixtures in the winter season have seen dew take its toll and affect visibility.
Teams have generally preferred to bat first after winning the toss because the runs can come easy and it is easier to put a score on the board early on and coerce the opposition under chasing pressure later on. 54% of the teams that win the toss elect to bat first on the Gaddafi pitch. This trend was at 63% before the Departmental T20 tournament in 2013 where teams chose to field first in all matches except one.
The batting first trend has continued in the only two international T20s hosted at this ground. Zimbabwe chose to bat first in both of their matches when they played Pakistan in May 2015.
Teams batting first at this ground have posted a total of 140 or more in 71 of the 111 completed T20s i.e. nearly 64%. 50% of the matches (56 out of 111) have seen a total in excess of 150 batting first, nine of which have been in excess of 200. Teams batting second have scored in excess of 140 in 54 of the completed matches.
The highest team total in a twenty-20 at Gaddafi is 243/2 by Karachi Dolphins, helped by Shahzaib Hassan’s century in 60 balls.
With a batting wicket, a target in sight and dew to help later in the evening, chasing has been relatively easy for teams playing at the Gaddafi stadium. Nearly 54% of the matches have been won by teams chasing. However this was not the trend before Aug 2013. Before Aug 2013, the trend between batting first and chasing was 50-50 which proved the batting prowess of this pitch to an extent. Since the departmental T20 in 2013, teams chasing have won 15 out of 20 matches (75%) which may forced Quetta Gladiators to choose to field first after winning the toss in Pakistan Super League final at Lahore, a match they went on to lose.
This trend was also seen in the international T20s between Pakistan and Zimbabwe where Pakistan chased 172 and 175 in subsequent matches.
Gaddafi stadium saw the highest ever successful run chase in a T20 in Pakistan when Lahore Eagles gunned down Sialkot Stallions’ 210 – a world record at that time. On another occasion, Karachi Dolphins eased past Rawalpindi Rams’ 209 with ample balls to spare.
Moin Khan struck the ever T20 century at the Gaddafi stadium when he scored 112 runs in 59 balls against the hosts Lahore back on the first day of T20 cricket at Gaddafi and in Pakistan. Abdul Razzaq then hit a 48-ball hundred against the Quetta Bears, which still remains the fastest T20 hundred at the ground. So far five batsmen have hit six centuries at this ground with Shahzaib Hassan repeating the feat twice.
Off the 25 T20 hundreds that have been hit in Pakistan, only Karachi’s National Stadium has seen more than Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium.
The highest score by any batsman in a T20I at the ground is 83 by Mukhtar Ahmed vs Zimbabwe in 2015.
With the pitches being ideal for batsmen, the Gaddafi stadium hasn’t been kind to bowlers especially the spinners. Only three bowlers have managed to get a five-for at this venue: Zeeshan Khan, Junaid Zia and Usman Khan Shinwari. Shinwari’s figures of 5/9 are still the best by any bowler at this ground.
Despite the little help that bowlers get from this pitch, the Gaddafi Stadium has seen two hat-tricks, both vs Multan Tigers: one by Zeeshan Khan in the inaugural T20 and the other by Sohail Ahmed later in the same tournament. The best figures in a T20I at this ground are by Mohammad Sami who finished with 3/36 in his four overs.
Bowlers on the other hand have taken eight fiver-fers at the National Stadium, Karachi. Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, with its limited T20s, has already seen three bowlers take a five-fer.
Fast bowlers have enjoyed more success at the Gaddafi Stadium taking 20 of the 29 four or more wickets hauls in T20s. Spinners have taken only 9 (including one 5-fer).