Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would know that international cricket was played for the first time in six years at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on May 22, 2015. Zimbabwe’s cricket team came out to the country despite much confusion following reports that they had cancelled their plans, which to the delight Pakistanis turned out to be a hoax. Then ICC refused to appoint umpires due to “security concerns” (that comment is so 2009!).
As the day drew near, people started travelling from all over Pakistan (and beyond) to the country’s heartland, Lahore, so they could celebrate the arrival of international sports in person. Despite the scorching heat, green clad fans of all ages, shapes and sizes were seen pouring out from every crevice of the city. Young men, wrapped in their national flag, chanted on their way to the stadium, ladies bedecked in their finest green and white shalwar kameez ushered their kids amidst tight security around the venue, and the air was oozing with uncontrollable excitement. People from all walks of life came together to revel in their favorite activity. Cricket has, time and again, proved a uniting factor for the nation. And did not fail this time either.
Here’s a look at what happens to Lahore when #CricketComesHome
People Flaunt their Green Merchandise
As it dawned on Friday, Twitter Feeds, Facebook timelines and Instagrams all over the country were abuzz with people digging out their green merchandise. Be it caps, shirts, flags or even wigs. Everything turned greener than a St. Paddy’s day celebration in Dublin.
— Maheen Taseer (@MaheenTaseer) May 21, 2015
Apparently, the PCB sent shirts to quite a few people out there, so of course, people were excited to wear those to the match.
Ticket art was another way for people to brag about their live match-watching experience.
Some green merchandise choices were unique, yet very, very interesting.
The long lines, stringent security checks and no-food-or-beverages-allowed rules were unable to deter fans from flaunting their enthusiasm for the day.
Inside-the-Stadium Scoop Happened
Courtesy: Shmyla Khan
There were tweets, statuses and whatnot for the PCB, Pakistani Cricket Team… And some extra special lovin’ for Zimbabwean Cricket Team
Damn this is all so sentimental! May this be the beginning of better times for Pakistan. & a massive thank you Zimbabwe! #CricketComesHome
— adnanmalik (@adnanmalik) May 22, 2015
— The Express Tribune (@etribune) May 22, 2015
Zimbabwe is like that one cousin who comes home and we forget about our family worries for a while. #cricketcomeshome
— Komal Shahid (@ArmedWithWords) May 22, 2015
— Selina Rashid Khan (@selinarashid) May 23, 2015
Outside-the-Stadium Folks Chipped In Too
At home, or office, if you couldn’t make it to the stadium it didn’t matter because your heart was in the right place.
There was Dazzling Star Power At the Game
Not to be left out of all the zealous energy, the celebrities of Pakistan came out in full force! After all, this was the Pakistani version of Super Bowl and celebrity sightings are an integral part of it.
Some even flew in from other cities, especially for the match:
While others showed their support in spirit:
And still, others who shared their thoughts about this momentous occassion:
Six long years and #cricketcomeshome ! Let's hope it's here for good!
— Mahira Khan (@TheMahiraKhan) May 22, 2015
One cricket fan was still buzzing with the adrenaline rush, a day after the match when we talked to her and here’s what she had to say about how it felt to be part of the crowd marking this historic occasion for international cricket in Pakistan:
“Ahsan Raza was injured in the brutal attack on the Sri Lankan team in 2009. As the attack played heavy on the minds of all those in the stadium, Liberty Roundabout only a stone’s throw away one of the gates of the stadium, Ahsan Raza walked onto the lush outfield of Qaddafi Stadium and kissed the ground. Everyone in the crowd cheered and never stopped cheering. It was incredibly emotional to stand amongst the 27,000 lucky fans who sang along to the national anthem, witnessing their team in the flesh. Every ball, run, misfield was cheered and cherished. There was enthusiasm and urgency in the crowd to soak in the action, not knowing when it will return again. Despite the heat, strict security and lack of water, the enthusiasm did not enervate. Old friends had returned for a night, and screaming ourselves hoarse was the least we could do.”
– Shmyla Khan
So, Pakistan! Now that #CricketIsHome, here’s hoping this marks the first ray of light and the end of the very, very dark tunnel we have all been struggling through for quite some time. Now, catch up on your sleep for the next match and pat yourselves for having been a wonderful audience.
— NadeemFarooqParacha (@NadeemfParacha) May 22, 2015