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PCB seeks to stage South Africa T20s in Rawalpindi

PCB seeks to stage South Africa T20s in Rawalpindi

LAHORE: While the Pakistan Cricket Board intends to host South Africa for three Twenty20 Internationals in Rawalpindi during March, it is planning to renovate four venues to make them ready for international competitions.

This was stated by PCB chief executive Wasim Khan in an interview here on Wednesday.

“With South Africa expected to tour Pakistan in late March for a three-match T20 series, Rawalpindi is selected as a venue for the matches,” Wasim said during the interview.

“The Pindi Cricket Stadium over the past few months has been included in the roaster of venues which have hosted international cricket in the recent years. It will [also] host eight matches of the forthcoming Pakistan Super League (PSL).

“Venues of Lahore and Karachi have been diluted because we have been playing our entire cricket here and because of that the wickets here are also suffering. We now have Rawalpindi as an available venue,” Wasim added.

“For me, it makes sense to go there and play the three T20 matches. I have suggested Rawalpindi as a venue to South Africa and they are comfortable with it.

“The tour of South Africa is very much a waiting game now and by the end of the [ongoing] month we should have a clear position. South Africa’s head of security is expected to be in Pakistan during the initial PSL games,” Wasim said.

“The PCB and Cricket South Africa are very comfortable with touring. We have to make it work logistically as South Africa finish the tour of India on March 18 and we don’t finish the PSL till March 22.

“For them to go back [to South Africa] and come again won’t be possible so we will have to see whether we can have them sit in the UAE for six or eight days and provide them the support and practice facilities or we fly them straight in here and provide all that here,” the PCB chief executive continued.

Meanwhile, commenting on the inclusion of venues for holding international cricket there, Wasim said the PCB wants all fans in Pakistan to access the game.

“We want to make the game accessible to fans all over the country so they can watch their heroes in action and this [PSL] edition is going to be a catalyst for it,” he remarked.

“By next year, we want to be in a position to add a couple of more venues. We are looking to develop more and more venues which provides us an opportunity to take the game around the country.

“We are looking at Peshawar, Multan, Faisalabad, which hosted the National T20 Cup and needs a little upgradation after which it can be an international venue, and Hyderabad, for which we are working with Sindh government for its upgrade.”

With the fifth edition of PSL just round the corner, it is significant that for the first time all the 34 matches of the league will be played in Pakistan at four venues, including two which are being tested for the first time — Multan and Rawalpindi — for the PSL matches.

Wasim believes the upcoming PSL edition will take the game to more and more audiences in the country, which, in turn, will help in normalising the staging of top-flight cricket in Pakistan.

He admitted that the PSL played a vital role in full resumption of international cricket in the country. Former PCB chairman Najam Sethi was the real force behind starting the PSL in 2016 in the UAE and bringing its matches to Pakistan gradually.

Moreover, he said the PCB has revamped its cricket committee heading by Iqbal Qasim and claims that the body now looks more independent as more members are taken from out of the PCB.

“The issues which are being discussed in this committee are very much relevant to the people of Pakistan and to Pakistan cricket,” Wasim concluded.

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2020

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