Karachi: The resounding success of first super eights T20 tournament in Faisalabad has impressed Aamir Sohail and the former captain feels the board should organize a T20 and 50-over League in the smaller cities of the country until international cricket returns to Pakistan.
The Iqbal stadium in Faisalabad last night was packed to the hilt with thousands more clamoring outside the stadium to get in for the final of the super eights tournament that saw the unfancied Rawalpindi Rams upset Karachi Dolphins.
The match also saw an eliminator over bowled in a T20 match in Pakistan to decide the winner for the first time.
Both teams had tied on the final ball after Karachi set a stiff target of 165 but in the eliminator over, Rawalpindi scored 16 runs and Karachi were unable to match and lost both their batsmen.
"The way the people have poured into the stadium every day of this week long tournament shows just hungry the Pakistanis are for quality cricket," Sohail said.
"We have seen such a packed house and atmosphere after such a long time. I have no doubt that if the board organizes limited over cricket leagues all over the country it will be an instant success," Sohail added.
No foreign team has toured Pakistan since March, 2009 for security reasons after militants attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in which six Pakistani police and a van driver were killed.
Pakistan has been forced to relocate its next two "home" series against Sri Lanka and England also to Dubai and Abu Dhabi after both teams refused to play in Pakistan.
"I don`t think international cricket is going to return to Pakistan soon but atleast we need to organize more such events domestically to keep cricket alive," the former chief selector said.
"True people can watch Pakistan play at neutral venues or abroad on television but nothing can match the atmosphere we saw last night at the Iqbal stadium. It just highlighted how necessary it is for the board to take cricket events to smaller cities and also that the Pakistani people are still very passionate for quality cricket," Sohail said.
He said Pakistan needed to face reality as far as hosting international matches was concerned.
"But if you can such a successful domestic event even without top players I think cricket is alive and kicking in Pakistan," he noted.
The super eights T20 held for the first time in Pakistan included the top eight of the national T20 championship and even though top performers like Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Wahab Riaz, Rana Naved, Younis Khan, Danish Kaneria were missing the crowds poured in for the matches.
Pakistan`s test opener, Imran Farhat also agreed to Sohail and said when South Africa was isolated in international cricket they survived by laying lot of stress on their domestic cricket.
"This hugely successful tournament is a indication that people are also willing to watch domestic matches specially at smaller centres," he said.