The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has confirmed that the second edition of its Super League (PSL) Twenty20 franchise competition will conclude in Lahore as part of ongoing efforts to return high-level cricket to the country.
The inaugural PSL was staged in the United Arab Emirates from February 4-23 last year and was deemed a major success. 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.
The PCB has since been stepping up its efforts to return top-tier cricket to Pakistan, with a long-held goal to stage some part of the second season of the PSL at home. The governing body has now confirmed that the 2017 PSL final will be played in the city of Lahore on March 7, with the PCB drawing up contingency plans for overseas players who are unwilling to travel to Pakistan.
The PCB will hold a new draft in the final week of February to bring in foreign players committed to travelling to Pakistan for the final, with the remainder of the tournament to be played in Dubai and Sharjah beginning on February 9.
“In the recent governing board meeting it was decided that the final of PSL will be held in Lahore,” a PCB spokesman told the ESPNcricinfo website. “PCB will try to convince players to travel to Pakistan but in the worst case scenario we will have a new draft for the players who are ready to tour Pakistan.”
ESPNCricinfo added that the PCB has taken numerous steps to plan for the final, which until last month was subject to security clearances. Assurances are said to have been provided by the Punjab government and security agencies. The PCB has also acquired four bulletproof buses to aid security measures and has previously touted a fly-in, fly-out arrangement for the teams.
Najam Sethi, PCB’s head of executive committee and PSL chairman, said: “Once the teams for the finals are decided and their icon or foreign players refuse to travel to Lahore, we will make a new draft with a pool from the existing 30-35 players of PSL. We will probably need about five to 10 players for Lahore, and those players who would be available from the discarded three teams can then get picked through this draft for the final.”
Since 2009’s terror attack, Zimbabwe are the only full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) to tour Pakistan when they visited for a three-match one-day international series in 2015.
The inaugural PSL generated $11.4m (€10.9m) in revenue, 30 per cent greater than projections, registering a profit of $2.47m.