Abu Dhabi in running to host remaining PSL 2021 matches

PCB chief executive says plenty of obstacles to navigate before the future of the tournament is decided

Abu Dhabi has emerged as a potential lone host for the remainder of the 2021 PSL season.

Pakistan’s T20 franchise league was suspended midway through the season in March.

The postponement happened after a Covid breach in the biosecure bubble led to a number of positive cases within the teams.

On Friday, the Pakistan Cricket Board agreed to a request by the six franchises to move the remaining fixtures, which were scheduled for Karachi in June, out of the country.

The tournament organisers have stated that UAE is the preferred host.

It is believed the idea of playing all 20 outstanding fixtures at a single venue is being considered.

The logistics of that make Zayed Cricket Stadium appear the most viable option among the three major venues in the Emirates.

Abu Dhabi Cricket has vast practice facilities, including practice nets, two international standard ovals, plus a number of other sports fields besides, on the same site as the main stadium.

It has recent experience of creating a bio-secure environment within that area, via both last year’s IPL, as well as its own T10 competition.

Each of those competitions comprised eight franchise teams, and involved international players jetting in from around the world in the midst of the pandemic.

However, Wasim Khan, the PCB’s chief executive, said there is still plenty of obstacles to navigate before the future of the tournament is decided.

“We had an interactive and productive meeting in which we considered a number of factors,” Khan said after the Zoom meeting between the PCB and the six franchise owners on Friday.

“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.”

Friday’s meeting also considered advice from Pakistan’s National Command and Operation Centre, the body overseeing the country’s Covid-response effort.

According to a statement from the PSL organisers, the viability of finishing the season is dependent on playing the matches before Pakistan depart for their limited-overs tour to the UK.

“As the [Eid] 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 23 June, the PCB will use this time to work with the Emirates Cricket Board to check if the event can be successfully delivered within the available time,” the statement read.

“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, ground 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, who will then review before a decision on the event venue is confirmed.”

Published: May 8, 2021 08:41 AM

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