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."