PCB decides to stage PSL final in Lahore

LAHORE – The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) otherday decided to go ahead with its plan of conducting the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final here at the Gaddafi Stadium on March 5.

It was decided in a meeting held in Dubai between the Pakistan Super League (PSL) management and the owners of the team franchises. A PCB official said that the team owners reinforced their solidarity and conviction with the decision of taking the final to Lahore.

“It has been heart-warming to see the dedication of all the owners to the cause of taking cricket back home and there is a realisation that this final will be the first step in opening the gates to international teams starting to make the journey again. We are all committed to this mission and wish to have a thoroughly entertaining final where it should happen – in Lahore,” Sethi said after the meeting.

Earlier, due to security concerns following the Feb 13 suicide bombing in Lahore which killed 13, there had been speculation that the PSL final may not be held in Pakistan after all. Nonetheless, PSL chairman Najam Sethi had promised cricket fans that the final would still be held in Lahore, in the absence of foreign players, if the fans did not want the venue to change following last week’s bombing.

In a tweet following the meeting, Sethi said: “The PSL management and franchises resolve to hold Final in Lahore. We invite PM, COAS and CMs to attend the match at Gaddafi Stadium. “The foreign players have refused to play the final in Lahore after Monday’s blast, but if the citizens of Pakistan want the PSL final to be held in Lahore, then the final will be held in Lahore,” Sethi had said in his statement.

PSL will give franchisees the option to draft new players in case contracted international stars opt out of the March 5 final at Lahore due to security reasons. “On Feb 22, we will do a new draft… we will put a formula in front of all the franchises and foreign players to let us know who will play the final in Lahore and who will not come,” Sethi had said earlier.

International stars, including West Indies batsman Chris Gayle, Shane Watson of Australia and England’s Twenty20 captain Eoin Morgan, are among 30 foreign players contracted to the five teams in the PSL Twenty20 tournament.

Sethi said he had also been in contact with several foreign players, who indicated they would still be willing to play the final in Lahore. “We are in touch with other foreign players so that we could replace those (contracted international) players who are not willing to play in Lahore.”

Quetta Gladiators batsman Kevin Pietersen had earlier said he had yet to decide whether to come to Pakistan or not if the PSL final is played in Lahore. “I haven’t decided to go or not as yet, I will take the decision regarding coming to Pakistan if my team reaches the final,” said Pietersen.

Welcoming the decision, Peshawar Zalmi owner Javed Afridi said that it was ‘in national spirit’ to be on the same page. “Sports, especially cricket, is an opportunity to unite the people of Pakistan. It will be a great event for the entire nation. Our decision on the final was made in the meeting with PSL chairman Najam Sethi.”

Lahore Qalandars chief operating officer Sameen Rana said that the statement from the army chief, where he promised support for the PSL final being held in Lahore, played an important role in forming the decision. Rana said that he was at the meeting with Sethi and that the decision was taken for the Pakistani cricket fans. “The franchise owners will speak to the players and see who is ready to play the final in Lahore. Only then we will decide about replacements,” Rana added.

Karachi Kings owner Salman Iqbal said he was glad that the PSL final would be held in Lahore. “It will be a cherry on top, if my team participates in the upcoming historic final.” Iqbal said he would speak to the players in the team. “I am sure it will be a secure and successful event,” he added. He requested Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa to attend the final so as to ‘grace the occasion’ and also ensure the security is on high-alert.


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