Finally, at long last after 8 years in the wilderness an ICC-sanctioned event is being held in Pakistan. The World XI has come to play, and this is the turning point for Pakistan cricket, away from international isolation and back into the elite cricketing fraternity. Now of course, no true Lahori cricket fan would dare miss such an event, and everybody lucky enough to get a ticket will be there.
As you head to Qaddafi stadium on the 12th, 13th and 15th of September remember that the primary experience should be the relationship between the crowd and the game; the fan and their team. So keep in mind that you deserve better and make the most of your experience by following my “Fan’s Guide to a Watching a Cricket Match in Extraordinary Conditions”.
Procuring tickets before a match is an exercise in resourcefulness and endless strategizing. Everyone’s instinct is to avoid the hassle and potential lines, and instead to procure some sweet passes. However given the scarcity of cricketing events among our midst, it’s important to get your tickets in advance, before you’re miserably stuffing your face in a nutella jar because your friend’s uncle who knows someone who knows someone didn’t get back to you in time.
Get your tickets from 13 authorized branches of the Bank of Punjab. Make sure you bring a copy of your CNIC along with you.
Any seasoned match goer will know there is always a long list of things that you can’t bring to the stadium. You’re not allowed to bring common sense things like edibles and water bottles with you. In the long list of prohibited items are bizarre inclusions like cameras (but mobile phones are allowed because logic). A useful rule of thumb to employ is to think of anything that might make the ungodly wait and time at the stadium bearable and then decide that it’s not allowed, because it’s probably not.
Given the extreme security plans in place, approaching the stadium is not as easy as one would think. Make you get there by 4 PM (and inform HR you’re sick).
It’s always a good idea to check the PCB’s official social media and website for a traffic plan. Chances are your regular route to the stadium is cordoned off and parking is available only in another part of the city. I would recommend leaving your cars at home and using public transport to get to the stadium. Your favorite ride-sharing app probably has a promo-code for the match as well, so be on the lookout.
Also, make sure your meeting point isn’t outside the stadium. Chances are the jammers have blocked your signals so coordinating with your buddies will be hell. Leave together to stay together!
Be it a shaadi or cricket match, there is always an assault to the senses by an overly enthusiastic DJ who will comically pair songs with the most inappropriate of moments. He will also attempt to hype up the crowd, which is the perfect opportunity to practice your sarcastic jeers out loud.
Have you always felt that your witty remarks go unappreciated by your friends and family? Do you have impeccable handwriting? Do you love puns? Well, this is your time to shine. Let your imaginations run wild!
After braving endless lines in the blistering heat and jumping through multiple security hoops, you need to be ready for one further obstacle—realising you’re actually watching a proper international match at a stadium on Pakistani soil. You’ll remember that horrible day in 2009 after which you never thought you’d see this sight again. You’ll see the world champions, who lifted the champion’s trophy against all odds this summer. They’ll receive the adoration they deserve in front of their home crowds. It’ll mean much more than a cricket match. So when that coin is tossed, you might need a tissue paper or two to keep from embarrassingly bawling in front of your friends.
Stay safe, and have fun!