What’s the story?
In the second edition of the Pakistan Super League, all the round-robin and playoff matches were held in the UAE but the final will take place in Pakistan for the first time. In the wake of security concerns in the country, most overseas players in the league have decided to back out from playing in the final.
The big names who will be missing out on the final are Englishmen Kevin Pietersen, Tymal Mills, Luke Wright, along with New Zealander Nathan McCullum. Quetta Gladiators announced that it has officially signed replacements in Elton Chihgumbura, Sean Ervine, Morne Van Wyk and Anamul Haque.
Since the attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009, international teams have refused to tour the country. In mid-2015, Zimbabwe became the first team to visit Pakistan in 6 years when they played 5 matches - 3 ODIs and 2 T20Is.
The PCB started the PSL with the hope of taking cricket back to the home-soil at some point. It decided that the final of the current PSL edition will be played in Lahore but the move has now backfired.
The heart of the matter
The second edition of PSL had a grand opening, only to be embroiled in controversy later in the tournament. It was hit by an ugly match-fixing scandal hours after the conclusion of the inaugural match. Players who had represented Pakistan in the international arena like Nasir Jamshed and Khalid Latif were arrested and questioned about their involvement.
However, the tournament then put this controversy behind and put on quite show which included a few nail-biting matches. Now the final at Lahore will host Quetta Gladiators and the winner of the third qualifying play-off – Peshawar Zalmi. The organisers have now decided to allow teams to pick players from a pool of 12 foreign players shortlisted by the teams.
From the Quetta contingent, none of the foreign players were willing to travel to Lahore and hence they had a chance to pick up to 5 players from the pool. However, it is not the same with the Zalmi squad as Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels, Dawid Malan and Chris Jordan are all set to travel to Lahore.
All-rounder Samit Patel, who was denied the NOC from ECB, could have been the fifth player. Amongst the eliminated Karachi Kings team, only Ravi Bopara was keen to travel and stellar players like Chris Gayle, Kumar Sangakkara and Kieron Pollard had pulled out before their match against Zalmi.
Sunset and Vine, which is a UK-based production house of the PSL have withdrawn their services for the Lahore-game. Dubai-based Innovative Production Group is set to take over and credit to the PCB for anticipating the players’ snub for the final. Hence the contingency plan which has enabled the Gladiators to buy five new overseas players could go down as a good decision.
With terror attacks still prevalent in the country, no international team or player will ever be interested in travelling to Pakistan. Foreign players pulling out of the final that is to be played in Lahore comes as no surprise even though security measures have been put in place.