DUBAI: Putting to rest rumours swirling around in the media, the Pakistan Super League chairman confirmed on Monday that the final match of the league will be played in Lahore, even if foreign players back out.
The fate of the PSL final was hanging in balance after a string of terrorist attacks rocked Pakistan; however, Najam Sethi and the five franchise owners decided that the league final would be held in Lahore whether the foreign players agreed to come or not.
“There was a high-level meeting held earlier today between the PSL management and franchise owners, chaired by the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Executive Committee and the PSL, Najam Sethi,” said a press release issued by the PCB.
It said that among various administrative and event discussions, all the team owners took time to reinforce their solidarity and conviction with the decision of taking the final of the PSL back to its rightful home, the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium, Lahore, also the head office of both the PCB and the PSL.
“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,” read the PCB press release.
Following the attack on Lahore’s Mall Road, army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had pledged full support to the authorities for holding the match according to the schedule. The government also decided to throw its weight behind the PSL authorities in a top-level security huddle convened by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday.
Earlier it was reported that the franchise owners had showed some reservations over the staging of the final at the Gaddafi Stadium; however, after a meeting with Sethi, all the franchise owners have agreed to play the PSL final in Lahore.
The PSL chairman had earlier said that the final would be played in Lahore if cricket fans and citizens of Pakistan were ready to watch the game without foreign players.
A list of all the players who agree to play in Lahore will be prepared and given to the two finalists who will then pick the players through a draft.
Bangladesh players will leave on February 28 as they have to prepare for a series against Sri Lanka, along with English players, who have other commitments. The West Indies players, and other international players, will have an option to travel with the teams to Lahore. Whoever agrees to go to Pakistan will have their names on the list.
Meanwhile, Sethi, in a tweet, invited Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and the chief ministers of all the four provinces to attend the final in Lahore.
Karachi Kings’ Chris Gayle, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene have refused to travel to Lahore for the league final despite being made lucrative financial offers by the league organisers.
As many as 50 cricketers expressed their desire to play in the title-decider, according to Express News.
However, absent from the list was the star trio of Gayle, Sangakkara and Jayawardene, who have refused to travel to Pakistan, citing the country’s volatile security conditions. The PCB, in order to bring international players on board, has reportedly offered between $10,000 and $50,000 to the said players on top of the salaries they are already receiving.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2017.