Pakistan Super League 2017 March 11, 2017

Malan reveals fan entered Peshawar change-room during PSL final

The staging of the PSL final in Lahore saw an almost unprecedented level of security © AFP

A young fan was able to briefly gain access to the Peshawar Zalmi dressing room, marring what was otherwise thought to be a well-executed security operation during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final in Lahore last week. Despite the heavy security presence, the male fan - thought to be in his early to mid-teens - was able to make his way through to the dressing room before the start of the match at the Gaddafi Stadium.

Some of the Peshawar players came across the fan as they made their way up to the dressing room. According to English batsman Dawid Malan, one of the four foreign players with Peshawar who chose to travel to Lahore, the fan was dressed in a "green Pakistan suit" with the Pakistan flag painted on his face, and began requesting selfies. Malan pointed the fan out to a security guard, and he was promptly removed.

Colonel (retd) Mohammad Azam Khan, head of PSL security (and senior general manager vigilance, PCB) told ESPNcricinfo that the fan had come from the Patron's Enclosure. The enclosure is adjacent to the dressing rooms and in the fans' rush to get autographs from the players as they were entering the dressing-room area, he was herded along with them into the change room. Azam said the fan was removed from the room as soon as this was discovered.

"It was concerning that, with all the checks, he was able to get in so easily," Malan told ESPNcricinfo. "He kind of got in at a time when all the players were walking in and he somehow managed to get in as well.

"We had just arrived at the ground and our cricket bags were being checked, so we just got to our seats in the changing room. I put my clothes bag down and walked around and there was this kid asking for selfies. I looked at the security guard in the room and asked him, 'Sorry - who's this guy?' Suddenly, they all clicked into gear and he ended up being pushed out the gate."

The level of security in place for the final was almost unprecedented. Once Lahore was confirmed as the venue for the final, the ICC and FICA sent over security advisors to assess the situation and liaise with the PCB.

Over 10,000 security personnel were deployed for the match, including Punjab police, and Pakistan's paramilitary force - Rangers. The Nishtar Park compound was protected by huge metal gates, and spectators could enter the Gaddafi Stadium only after three layers of security checks, some of which took place at a two-kilometre protective perimeter around the venue. No public vehicle was allowed within a kilometer of the sports complex, which was also set up with a range of scanners, high-definition facial-recognition CCTV systems and police control centres.

In addition to bomb-proof buses and a heavy-artillery cavalcade, there were also snipers at high vantage points, including the roof of the Gaddafi Stadium. The final itself took place without incident, with Peshawar beating Quetta Gladiators by 58 runs. After the post-match presentation, the players had around 20 minutes to change before they were taken from the stadium straight to Lahore airport. Their stay in the city was just around 24 hours.

Malan also expressed slight concern that fans got too close to them at the players' hotel as they made their way onto the bus. Guests staying at the hotel which hosted the players had also been through many checks.

"It is definitely something that can be improved in the future," said Malan. "I think maybe they worried so much about the overall security that, maybe, they didn't focus too much on the smaller things. I think, in the future, if you wanted international teams to tour there, all those little things need to be taken into account as well."

Vithushan Ehantharajah is a sportswriter for ESPNcricinfo, the Guardian, All Out Cricket and Yahoo Sport

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nish on March 13, 2017, 7:21 GMT

    @crikcrack You can label them as 'non-issues' & not want them publicized at all! However that is YOUR choice but in a free world, others have a right to know about it as well as comment on it! So sorry but it is not for you to decide whether they can do so or not! Am sure all the players & other coaching staff in the PSL final would also want to know about any such security breaches & how is it sorted out by the authorities than them just expediently & quietly brushed under the carpet.

  • fouada3654533 on March 12, 2017, 20:21 GMT

    @notsocoolcapricorn. It is a non-issue while the article itself is admiring the tight presidential level security. What are you expecting me to respond? Did you not see George Bush getting a shoe thrown at? Was that not good enough security and the instances like such are at the end of the day a non issue. Please grow up everyone for once and talk about cricket. This article itself is a waste of time let alone the comments. So..... How come kohli and Smith get away from being charged? Lol!

  • Nish on March 12, 2017, 13:11 GMT

    @CRIKCRACK So just because it was fortunately an exuberant fan rather than an terrorist who managed to breach this weakness in security & get into the player's dressing room, are you saying it not be reported upon at all & just be brushed under the carpet? On the contrary it is best that they are highly publicised as then when a PSL match or similar event is next held in your country, the authorities will then be fully aware of tightening security procedures in such areas too that was previously overlooked & breached.

  • fouada3654533 on March 12, 2017, 11:47 GMT

    Making a mountain out of a molehill eh Vithushan? I recall enjoying better articles from you than this desperate attempt to malign a perfectly and successfully hosted event.

    Whether PCB did a right or wrong hosting the final in Lahore is a different debate altogether. At the end of the day the players and the nation enjoyed that thoroughly and that should be end of the topic.

    Thank you Mr. Malan for being there. I'm sure you were more than amply paid for your presence and that there was 0.00% chance of that "kid in green asking for selfies going through three levels of security" blowing up on your face.

    Undoubtedly Pakistanis will continue to cherish the love showered by cricketers like Sammy and the likes for years to come.

    Thanks everyone.

  • shani on March 12, 2017, 11:11 GMT

    With all crowd has been cheked by security 3 times,, there was no danger if any of the fan enters in changing room,, we all know about fans they always try to meet celebrity,, i still remember in playoffs at dubai one of the fan enter in the ground take a selfie with sammy during over, that doesnt mean there was a security issue in dubai... That all should be taken in a good sense Pakistani fans has also the right to enjoy movements,,,

  • Mo Bashir on March 12, 2017, 10:34 GMT

    phatechar no wonder IK was right!!!

  •   cricfan69564930 on March 11, 2017, 22:58 GMT

    those buses the ones pcb bought?

  • Nish on March 11, 2017, 14:45 GMT have all this high-tech & intense level of security but you still incredibly have this fan managing to walk in unchallenged into the player's dressing room & asking them for selfies! Thankfully he was found just to be an enthusiastic fan but you simply can't have even a single minor weakness in your security like this if it was supposed to be a Presidential level of security or akin to that afforded to visiting Heads of State or dignitaries!

  • tariq on March 11, 2017, 13:39 GMT

    Malian is right. These little things make big difference. Food for thought.

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