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PCB steps up efforts to take Pakistan Super League home

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has said that eight matches will be held at home during the 2019 edition of the Super League, with the United Arab Emirates to remain the main venue for the franchise-based Twenty20 event despite concerns over competition with other tournaments in the region.

The attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus by gunmen in Lahore in March 2009 has forced Pakistan to play the majority of its ‘home’ series in the UAE, but the PCB has been slowly reintroducing its events to Pakistan, with Lahore and Karachi hosting PSL games earlier this year.

A PSL governing council meeting has now expressed “full confidence” in the PCB’s attempts to bring more PSL matches to Pakistan, deciding that at least eight matches will be held in the country next year.

Earlier this month, the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), governing body for the sport in the UAE, revealed plans for a new Twenty20 league which it claims will be the most innovative and inclusive in the world.

The ECB said it has been granted a 10-year sanctioning agreement for the venture by the International Cricket Council (ICC). The UAE-owned tournament, the name of which is yet to be decided, will make its debut in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah with five new franchise teams vying for the inaugural title in a 22-match format to be played over 24 days this December and January.

The PCB was notably absent from a list of six ICC full member nations – England, Ireland, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, New Zealand and the West Indies – which the ECB said supported the project and a potential fixture clash is said to have concerned Pakistani officials.

However, the ESPNcricinfo website said the PCB has reached a deal with the ECB and retained the UAE as the venue for its ‘home’ season. The ECB will reportedly avoid scheduling other tournaments with Pakistan’s home series, and agreed to keep the PSL as the exclusive cricket event held in the UAE during this period.

Lahore and Karachi have again been confirmed as two venues for the eight PSL matches in Pakistan, with a third yet to be decided on.

“Eventually the whole PSL will come back to Pakistan one day, but at this stage it's not feasible,” PCB chairman Najam Sethi told ESPNcricinfo. “With every passing year, things are improving and, from the first to the third edition, we have continued to have more games in Pakistan. Next year eight or more games will come to Pakistan.”