Saturday May 08, 2021
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has approached the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) for holding the remaining matched of the Pakistan Super League’s (PSL) sixth edition.
PCB and the six franchise owners met on Friday via a Zoom call to discuss the remaining 20 matches of the HBL PSL VI. They also considered feedback from the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC).
At the end of the meeting the UAE emerged as the preferred venue for the remaining 20 matches.
PCB has cancelled its booking with the hotel in Karachi where it had reserved more than 400 rooms.
The earlier plan was to play the matches in Karachi, but the PCB has decided against it following a request from the six franchises as well as advice from the National Command Operation Centre (NCOC), which asked the board to avoid playing in Karachi because of the worsening Covid-19 situation in the country.
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 June 23, the PCB will use this time to work with the Emirates authorities to check if the event can be successfully delivered within the available time.
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, 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 before a decision on the event venue is confirmed.
PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan said after the meeting: “We had an interactive and productive meeting in which we considered a number of factors. 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.”
The 2021 edition of the PSL was suspended after 14 games — played between February 20 and March 3, all in Karachi — following an outbreak of cases among players and support staff.
After a date for resumption was finalised — June 2 to June 20 — the franchises took part in a replacement draft to plug holes in their line-ups because a number of overseas players were not able to take part in the games on the new dates.
Pakistan government has curtailed inbound flights from May 5 to May 20. And a lockdown has also been put in place in Pakistan which will remain in force till May 15.
A move to the UAE would not be without its own logistical and operational issues. Flights to the country from Pakistan are currently operating at a severely reduced frequency. And June is not a month in which top-level cricket is often played in the UAE because of the oppressive heat at that time of the year.