Sports

LAHORE – Pakistan Super League (PSL) chairman Najam Sethi has said that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will make every effort to ensure that the final of the upcoming PSL is played at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium, a move that is likely to encourage the resumption of international games in the cricket-starved nation.

“We will try our best to stage the final of the second edition of the PSL in Pakistan,” Sethi said while chairing a top-level meeting in Lahore, further adding that security measures for international players were being finalized.

Earlier, at the closing ceremony of the first edition of PSL, Mr Sethi had requested all international cricketers to at least play the opening and final matches of the next PSL edition in any city of their choice in Pakistan.

Some star cricketers, who were part of PSL in February this year, expressed their readiness to play cricket in Pakistan to help spur the return of the international sport to the country.

West Indies’ player Andre Russel, who played for PSL team Islamabad United, said that he was ready to play in Pakistan but was worried about his security based on prior information about the state of law and order in the country.

In an interview, he said: “I would be willing to travel to Pakistan if the second edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) was to be held in Lahore or Karachi”.

Shane Watson, an Australian cricketer who also represented Islamabad United, said his decision to play in Pakistan was contingent on the improvement of security, saying: “Obviously I will go to Pakistan if it is safe for international players anytime in the future.”

West Indian cricketer Darren Sammy, who represented Peshawar Zalmi in the first edition of PSL, also expressed the same, extending his sympathies towards Pakistanis, who have been deprived of international cricket since the attack on the Sri Lankan team in 2009.

“Honestly, we don’t make any decisions, cricket boards and governments make decisions on our behalf but I do want Pakistanis to watch matches [being played] at their home grounds,” he said.

Pakistan has hosted only one Test playing cricket nation, Zimbabwe, since March 2009 when a group of terrorists attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore while it was its way to Gaddafi Cricket Stadium to play the host country.

After years of negotiations and backdoor diplomacy, the PCB was successful in convincing the Zimbabwean cricket team to play in Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium in 2015. Pakistan and Zimbabwe played an ODI and a T20 series during the tour.

However, the country has been unsuccessful in attracting other nations to play in Lahore or Karachi despite the assurance of extraordinary security measurements.

As a result, the first edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL), which included international star cricketers like Shane Watson, Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy, Sangakara and many others, was also held outside Pakistan.