Pak­istan to host PSL T20 fi­nal

All the other games will be played in the UAE, start­ing on February 9

The National - News - Sport - - LEADING OFF -

ISLAMABAD // Pak­istan will host the fi­nal of its do­mes­tic Twenty20 tour­na­ment on home soil in March, the Pak­istan Cricket Board (PCB) said yes­ter­day, a big lift for a na­tion largely shunned by in­ter­na­tional teams since 2009 due to se­cu­rity risks.

Last year, the in­au­gu­ral Pak­istan Su­per League (PSL) be­came a suc­cess though all the matches were played in the UAE. The PCB said at the time that the real test would be to bring the game back home. In 2009, gun­men at­tacked a bus car­ry­ing the Sri Lankan team from their ho­tel to La­hore’s Gaddafi Sta­dium for a Test match, in­jur­ing six play­ers and killing six se­cu­rity per­son­nel and two civil­ians.

The in­ci­dent forced Pak­istan to play their home matches in the UAE and the coun­try has since re­mained starved of in­ter­na­tional cricket at home, apart from Zim­babwe’s limited-overs tour in 2015.

“We will host the fi­nal in La­hore on March 7,” the PCB’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee chair­man Na­jam Sethi said. “We are go­ing full steam ahead, and have all the green sig­nals.”

Last week, Giles Clarke, the head of the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil’s Pak­istan Task Force, ar­rived in the coun­try on a two-day fact-find­ing mis­sion on se­cu­rity.

“We’ve been able to see very sig­nif­i­cant work that has been in­vested in, and in­vested very wisely in how safety and se­cu­rity will be made pos­si­ble for vis­it­ing in­ter­na­tional cricket teams,” Clarke said. “There’s a con­sid­er­able amount of per­cep­tion that needs to be changed and in­for­ma­tion that needs to be shared. But I am most im­pressed by the ef­forts of the au­thor­i­ties to make La­hore a safe city.”

A PCB of­fi­cial said the PSL fi­nal would be hosted in La­hore “for sure, but only if there is no big se­cu­rity re­lated in­ci­dent from now to February 9”, when the league kicks off in the UAE.

Last year, the PCB sold five fran­chises for US$93 mil­lion (Dh341.5m) and at­tracted play­ers from 11 dif­fer­ent coun­tries, in­clud­ing such names as West Indies bats­man Chris Gayle and for­mer cap­tains Ku­mar San­gakkara of Sri Lanka and Eng­land’s Kevin Pi­etersen.

AFP

This year’s PSL cham­pi­ons will be able to cel­e­brate in Pak­istan and not the UAE, as Islamabad United did last year.

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