On March 5, 2017, Lahore will host the first match of Pakistan Super League (PSL) on home soil, confirmed by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Monday. The much-awaited final will take place amid security concerns. All the excitement put aside for the biggest match of the tournament, the most imperative question remains whether holding the PSL final in Lahore will be beneficial for Pakistani cricket or not?
Chairman Najam Sethi repeatedly reiterated that PSL is the gateway to bring international cricket back home. The idea clearly was that thousands of fans will watch the final having at least four foreign players in each team — which will in turn help promote a positive image of Pakistan globally; eventually paving the way for national teams to be persuaded to visit in the future.
Also, with so many players certain to miss out, including all seven Quetta Gladiators foreign players, to go with four from Karachi Kings’ including captain Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardena, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Islamabad United’s Shane Watson, and with production company and foreign commentators also refusing to cover the final in Lahore, it is hard to imagine that portraying a safer image of Pakistan can be achieved with such limited resources. Many argued, including league chairman Sethi, that the PCB is also thinking on the lines of hosting an all-Pakistan final with the hope of foreign players showing up.
Another concern is the potential citywide lockdown. The decision was heavily criticised by the 1992 World Cup winning captain, Imran Khan, as well.
Perhaps that’s what the PCB needs to understand is that Pakistani cricket enthusiasts need international cricket — but not at the cost of risking people’s lives. Hopefully all will go smooth and security at the final will be given utmost importance.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2017.
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