Pakistan Super League: Punjab govt gives green signal to hold final in Lahore, Imran Khan criticises move

Karachi: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Monday got the green signal from the Punjab government to hold the final of the second Pakistan Super League T20 tournament at the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore on 5 March.

Najam Sethi, who heads the PSL, told the media after a long meeting at the Gaddafi stadium that it had been decided to hold the final as planned in Lahore despite adverse security situation.

The confirmation for the final came after days of uncertainty over whether the government would give clearance for the final because of the spate of terrorist attacks in the country including two incidents in Lahore in the last few days.

At the meeting which was chaired by the Chairman of the board, Shaharyar Khan and included the chief secretary of Punjab, IG Punjab police and other security officials it was announced that the Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has given the go ahead for the match.

It was decided that around 10,000 policemen, elite police commandoes and paramlitary rangers would provide security cover for the final in and around the Gaddafi stadium which is also the headquarters of the PCB.

The announcement comes despite concerns being expressed by some former PCB administrators and former players and critics over the huge risk involved in hosting the final at this time in Lahore.

"I think the time has come for us to give out a clear message and we hope that once this final is held peacefully it will allow us to bring international teams to Pakistan," Sethi added.

No top Test team has toured Pakistan since March, 2009 when militants attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore although the PCB managed to get Zimbabwe play a short limited-overs series in May, 2015.

The series went off peacefully with full houses expect for one reported incident where security agencies arrested a suspected militant on the outskirts of the stadium following an explosion.

Sethi said that security experts and some officials from the ICC and other cricket boards including Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh would be coming for the final to inspect the security situation themselves.

Asked about the participation of the foreign players in the final, Sethi said things would be finalised once the two teams were confirmed.

"I will be going back to Dubai now and once the finalists are confirmed I will again talk to the franchise owners and foreign players. We have also prepared a back up list of foreign players in case the overseas signings of the finalist teams refuse to come to Lahore," he said.

Ironically two of the franchises, which have qualified for the playoffs, Karachi Kings and Peshawar Zalmi are led by foreigners -- Kumar Sangakkara and Darren Sammy.

Imran Khan critical of decision

Fromer Pakistan cricket legend Imran Khan has termed holding the final of the PSL in Lahore as "madness."

"The idea of having the PSL final in Lahore is madness to me," Imran told a news channel.

"What message of peace will we send out in such conditions," Imran said.

The former captain said that even if the PSL final had not been held in Lahore it would not made any difference to Pakistan cricket.

Imran had earlier also made the point that without the main foreign players representing their teams in the final, it would serve no purpose for Pakistan cricket.

Arif Ali Khan Abbasi a former chief executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board who organized the 1987 and 1996 World Cups in the subcontinent also shot down the idea of having the final in Lahore.

"I think the risks involved in having the final at this time are high and the environment is just not right to take such a big risk," Abbasi said.

He noted that until complete peace returned to Pakistan it would always be difficult to convince any Test team to tour Pakistan.

Imran also warned about the after effects of any incident happening during the final.

"If something God forbid happens, then it will put Pakistan cricket back by 10 years," the former captain said.

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Updated Date: Feb 27, 2017 21:33:18 IST

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