PCB approaches Emirates Cricket Board to host PSL in UAE
The ECB also confirmed that they had been in touch with the Pakistan board
Having salvaged the Indian Premier League (IPL) last year, the UAE is now expected to rescue the Pakistan Super League (PSL) from cancellation this year.
The 2021 PSL was suspended in March after just 14 matches as the Covid-19 virus had breached the bubble, infecting seven people, including six players.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had earlier planned to resume the league on June 1 at the National Stadium in Karachi, with the final scheduled for June 20 at the same stadium.
But now with Pakistan bracing for a deadly second wave of coronavirus infections, the franchises were sceptical of resuming the tournament in Karachi as they feared a repeat of the issues that had led to the suspension of the league in March.
And the PCB accepted a proposal from the six franchises on Friday to host the remaining 20 matches of the premier T20 tournament in the UAE.
After a virtual meeting with the franchises on Friday, the PCB approached the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) for the resumption of the suspended league in the UAE.
The ECB also confirmed that they had been in touch with the Pakistan board.
“ECB can confirm they are in touch with the PCB and further developments will be shared in due course,” the ECB said in a statement.
On Thursday, Javed Afridi, the owner of the Peshawar Zalmi, and Salman Iqbal, who owns the Karachi Kings, had revealed that all the franchises were in favour of moving the tournament to the UAE after the PCB has been advised by the National Command Operation Centre (NCOC) to avoid staging the tournament in Pakistan due an impending second wave of the Covid-19.
“I am very much sure that we will have it in Dubai,” Javed Afridi had told Khaleej Times on Thursday.
And the UAE eventually emerged as the preferred venue for the remaining matches of the PSL after PCB’s virtual meeting with the six franchises on Friday.
Now the Pakistan board will work in tandem with the ECB to finalise the dates for the tournament.
“As the holiday period has already started in both the countries and the Pakistan men’s national cricket team has to depart for the United Kingdom on 23 June, the PCB will use this time to work with the Emirates Cricket Board to check if the event can be successfully delivered within the available time,” the PCB said in a statement on Friday.
“During the holiday period, the PCB will work on a revised tournament schedule, while it will liaise with the ECB in relation to finalising playing and training facilities, hotel bookings, ground transportation and visitors’ visas.
“PCB will carry out a detailed financial and risk assessment as well as cost analysis before reporting back to the franchises, who will then review before a decision on the event venue is confirmed.”
Meanwhile, Wasim Khan, the chief executive of the PCB, said that the cricket board was determined to host the remaining PSL matches despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We had an interactive and productive meeting (with the franchises) in which we considered a number of factors,” Khan said in a statement.
“While the UAE has emerged as a preferred venue, a number of challenges remain, which will be worked through over the coming days. We remain committed to doing everything possible to complete the HBL PSL 6.”
With international cricketers refusing to travel to Pakistan following the 2009 attack by gunmen on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore, the inaugural edition (2016) of the PSL was hosted in the UAE.
The PCB eventually managed to convince several foreign players to play in Pakistan as the final of the 2017 PSL was staged in Lahore after the UAE had hosted the league matches as well as the playoffs.
The third and fourth editions of the league (2018, 2019) were co-hosted by the UAE and Pakistan and it was only in 2020 that the PCB staged the entire tournament on home soil.
Staging the entire tournament in Pakistan for the second straight time was the PCB plan until the Covid-19 played havoc with their bio-bubble in March.
Now the showpiece event of Pakistan cricket looks set for a return to a country where it all began.
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