Pak­istan win - but there’s no one to cel­e­brate with

The lack of fans is a ma­jor con­cern for the PCB and UAE cricket

7 Days in Dubai - - SPORT - By Durgesh Hari­das @the­gouyalle

While Pak­istan sealed the Test se­ries against the West Indies with a 133run win at Abu Dhabi but the ab­sence of fans in the sta­dia is still a worry.

In the sec­ond Test, Yasir Shah picked up an­other 10-wicket haul and man-of-the-match award. Pak­istan did not en­force a fol­low on and You­nis Khan and Mis­bah-ulHaq made valu­able con­tri­bu­tions with the bat.

The se­ries of events seem like a car­bon copy of re­ports from pre­vi­ous se­ries in the UAE. Pak­istan last lost a Test se­ries in the emi­rates way back in 2002, when they were beaten 2-0 by a dom­i­nant Aus­tralian side.

Hav­ing loyal, ded­i­cated and pas­sion­ate fans is any team or sportsper­son’s dream and Pak­istan are blessed with sta­dia full of them across the globe.

But, not be­ing able to play at home is a thorn in the flesh that is start­ing to hurt Pak­istan now, more than ever.

In 2015, when Zim­babwe agreed to tour Pak­istan for two Twenty 20s and three ODIs, each player from the visit­ing team was promised $12,500 and the Zim­babwe Cricket (ZC) a sum of $500,000 by the Pak­istan Cricket Board (PCB).

Zim­babwe were re­ceived with fer­vour and cel­e­bra­tions. “Cricket comes home”, “thank you Zim­babwe” and many such ban­ners adorned the sold-out Gaddafi Sta­dium in La­hore, but the matches, sadly, were too one-sided.

The first Test of the cur­rent se­ries played in Dubai, the first day/night Test for both teams, the first pinkball game in the UAE and the sec­ond ever in in­ter­na­tional cricket, failed to at­tract crowds big enough to make a noise.

Azhar Ali’s un­beaten 302 was not even wit­nessed by as many spec­ta­tors in the 25,000 ca­pac­ity sta­dium, much to the dis­ap­point­ment of the bats­man who went of to say “I would have en­joyed it more if it was at home”.

This de­spite the UAE be­ing one of Pak­istan’s big­gest over­seas fan bases.

The Pak­istan Su­per League (PSL) on the other hand had close to sell­out crowds for it’s in­au­gu­ral edi­tion at the same venues.

Cricket ad­min­is­tra­tors have not turned a blind eye to this drought, PSL chair­man Na­jam Sethi an­nounced that the fi­nal of the 2017 edi­tion of the tour­na­ment will be played in La­hore. But again, for­eign play­ers had to be wooed with “fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives” in view of the pos­si­ble risks.

The UAE has been a happy hunt­ing ground for Pak­istan, but sev­eral play­ers in­clud­ing Test cap­tain Mis­bah-ul-Haq have ex­pressed their grief over not be­ing able to play at home.

While the ar­rival of the PSL fi­nale is a step in the right di­rec­tion, ques­tions still loom over the will­ing­ness of fullmem­ber teams to come back to coun­try and the PCB’s ef­forts to bring cricket back to Pak­istan.

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