DUBAI: The second Pakistan Super League (PSL) commenced with the colourful opening ceremony held here at Dubai International Stadium on Thursday. The opening ceremony started with the national anthems of Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The organisers billed it to be an entertaining event, with celebrity appearances and a fireworks display. As the ceremony began, the stadium floodlights were switched off, while LED lights of different hues were being used for a lights display in addition to live performance by musicians. Drummers suspended from the top put on quite a show. Celebrity and TV show host Fahad Mustafa was trying to charge up the crowd with chants of “This league belongs to the whole of Pakistan”. Songs in the four provincial languages were played, as dancers in traditional wear took center stage. A projector was projecting images of Pakistan’s famous monuments. Pakistan’s alternative anthem by Junaid Jamshed, Dil Dil Pakistan was playing with the crowd singing along. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s patriotic song ‘Pakistan Pakistan’ was also being played. PCB chairman Shaharyar M Khan then took the podium and made the welcome speech. Khan thanked UAE president Sheikh al Nahyan for hosting the event. He talked about the final in Lahore. “The success of PSL will open the gates for others to start coming into Pakistan.” He added that the match in Lahore was significant as it would show that Pakistan had ‘normalised’ it terms of security.
The PSL teams then walked out onto the field, led by Islamabad United. Cricketing legend Wasim Akram and actor Fawad Khan were leading the players, who were all dressed in dark green shalwar kameez and black waistcoats. The Karachi Kings then walked out in their playing kits, Lahore Qalandars, also dressed in their playing kits, walked out led by their skipper Brendon McCullum. After that came the turn of Peshawar Zalmi, which along with Shahid Afridi and Darren Sammy, walked out into the stadium. Quetta Gladiators with skipper Sarfraz Ahmed then entered the stadium. Sheikh Mubarak bin Zayed al Nahyan, in his address to the teams and excited fans, said: “The Pakistan Super League is a testimony of the strong bond between the countries.” He also wished the best to the teams and PSL. After him, PSL chairman Najam Sethi addressed the crowds and said: “The difference between the last edition and this edition is that now we have bigger stars. The pitches are designed in a way that there will be big runs. If someone in the crowd catches a sixer, they will win Rs 10 million,” said Sethi. He also vowed to bring cricket back to Pakistan. Sethi thanked the four mega stars for their presence and promised a breathtaking ceremony. “I want to retain an element of surprise before the opening ceremony, it should be an enthralling evening. I also welcome and thank the stars especially Shaggy, who has flown down to Dubai for the event. Ali Zafar, Shehzad Roy and Fahad Mustafa all made a big contribution as we endeavour to deliver an enthralling success,” he said. Sethi then called Misbah on stage, and the crowd welcomed him with a thundering applause. All the five captains were also invited on stage and signed the bat which would be auctioned and the proceeds from the auction would go to the Edhi Foundation. Jamaican singing sensation Shaggy then kicked off the musical portion with a medley of his most famous songs. Shahzad Roy then came to the stage and performed his rendition of the PSL anthem. After that, sensation of PSL-2 Ali Zafar appeared to entertain the packed stadium! He started with ‘Asman ko chootay jaen hum’ and amused the crowd to larger extent. In the end, there was a firework which awed the entire crowd! The sky was lit up by colours as the crowd went crazy with the awe-inspiring performance! With this sterling performance, the opening ceremony came to an end and the crowd was geared up for the first match between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi.