The final of the 2017 Pakistan Super League (PSL) will remain in Lahore after the Twenty20 cricket competition’s franchise-owners were assured over security provisions for the event.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) confirmed in January that the second edition of the PSL, which is currently ongoing, would conclude in Lahore as part of ongoing efforts to return high-level cricket to the country. The final is scheduled to take place on March 5 but a series of bombings in Pakistan over the past week had placed renewed doubt over its staging.
Of most concern for the PSL final itself was a bombing on a major thoroughfare in Lahore, near the Punjab assembly, which claimed the lives of 13 people. However, following a “high-level” meeting held yesterday between PSL management and the five franchise-owners, the PCB said team officials “reinforced their solidarity and conviction” with the decision to take the final back to its “rightful home”, the Gaddafi Stadium, which is also the head office of both the PCB and PSL.
Chairman of the PCB Executive Committee and the PSL, Najam Sethi, said in a statement: “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.”
The ESPNCricinfo website said Monday’s meeting saw the owners of the Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars franchises raise questions about the security of players and the general public if the final was to be played in Lahore, concerns that were eventually assuaged by Sethi.
“We are actually concerned about the general public's safety, otherwise we are convinced that our players will be taken care of and they will have the top security,” Sameen Rana, chief executive of Lahore Qalandars, told ESPNCricinfo.
“But they (the public) are also our stakeholders and it's for the crowd that we are making it, so what about their safety? We were given a line by Najam Sethi that he has all the assurances from the government and forces to make it possible, and every single person is important and will be taken care of. So we trust them and agreed to play the final in Lahore.”
In recent months, the PCB has made efforts to plan for the final, including acquiring four bulletproof buses for the transport of players. ESPNCricinfo added that foreign players are set to be offered separate payments to travel for the final itself, based on a tiered system reflecting their status and seniority. The maximum such payment could go as high as $50,000 (€46,600).
The inaugural PSL was staged in the United Arab Emirates from February 4-23 last year, with the UAE also hosting the majority of this season’s tournament. The UAE has served as the PCB’s home-from-home for international matches, as well as the PSL, following a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009.