Photo used for illustrative purpose.
Mohammad Abdullah, Sports Reporter
The remaining matches of the sixth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) will be held in Abu Dhabi, revealed a source closed to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Sunday.
The tentative dates for resumption of the PSL, which was stopped mid-way in March due to the outbreak of the coronavirus in the bubble, are from June 1-20.
Reports are rife of late that the PCB is planning to shift the remaining matches of the PSL to the UAE after PCB CEO wasim Khan had affirmed that they had a discussion with the franchises.
But, the venue and the dates were not confirmed, whether the matches will be played across all three venues -- Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah – or at one place in order to avoid the traveling jitters during the pandemic.
“PCB has decided to hold the remaining matches in Abu Dhabi and the tentative dates are from June 1-20,” said the source on the condition of anonymity. “All the matches will be held at one venue to maintain the safety protocols,” he added.
The sixth edition of the PSL came to an abrupt halt after the breach of safety bubble led to the new coronavirus cases during the tournament, which was being played in Pakistan across many venues.
“Teams are likely to be ferried across by chartered jets as there is a ban on commercial flights from Pakistan,” added the source.
The UAE has imposed travel restrictions on the commercial flights from the sub-continental countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to curb the spread of virus.
Representatives of the PCB visited the UAE, to negotiate with the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) authorities to get the competition resumed soon. Though the permissions are yet to come, the organisers remain confident of receiving answer in affirmative reply from their UAE counter-parts.
When the tournament was stopped holders Karachi Kings were at the top of the standings with six points, followed by Peshawar Zalmi, also on six points with, a better run rate.
Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) declined to comment on the finalisation of the venue and dates. “We are not in the position to reveal any information now. We will notify the media through a press release soon,” said an ECB official.
The UAE has once again affirmed its status as a safe haven for the sporting event. A hosts of sporting extravaganzas like MMA fights, IPL, Abu Dhabi GP, AFC Champions League matches and DDF Tennis Championship have been held in the UAE successfully since the outbreak of the pandemic that brought the whole world down on its knees.
None of the tournaments were cancelled half-way or postponed after being shifted to the UAE. IPL is also likely to follow the suit, should remaining matches of PSL be completed successfully.
Rumours are already swirling around for the UAE to be the likely host to complete the 14th edition of the IPL, which was abandoned in the mid-way after coronavirus cases were reported in the bubble.
IPL witnessed an exodus of international players, who refused to play after the breach of bubble security, which prompted the BCCI to put the tournament on hold.
Australian cricketer Adam Zampa, who was one of the first few players to flee, had said UAE was extremely safe during the 2020 edition while India was most vulnerable.
“I just felt like it was the most vulnerable. The IPL that was held in Dubai six months ago didn’t feel that way at all. I felt like that was extremely safe. “Personally, I feel like that would have been a better option originally for this IPL but obviously, there’s a lot of political stuff that goes into it,” Zampa had said after leaving India.
India has witnessed a drastic surge in the coronavirus cases during the second wave, which has left the country of one billion plus dumb stricken and clueless.
The IPL has already been shifted to the UAE twice before which makes it the most sought after venue for the BCCI. In 2014, around 20 matches of the world’s biggest league were shifted to the UAE in the wake of general of elections, due to security reasons.
Again in 2020, the full edition of the IPL was hosted by the UAE and the matches were played on all three venues in empty stadium. There are other tournaments in the pipeline as well. Twenty20 World Cup, which is slated for October in India, may be shifted to the UAE as well if situation does not improve in the country, which is an abode to a whopping 1.3 billion people.
Apart from cricket tourneys, joint qualifiers for the 2022 Qatar World Cup and 2023 Asia Cup China, will get under way from June 3 after being postponed thrice at its original venue due to unviable conditions.
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