Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)’s hopes of resuming the Pakistan Super League (PSL 2021) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in June have been dealt a severe blow. That’s because the UAE government has announced a ban on travellers from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh owing to the surging COVID-19 pandemic. The travel ban comes into effect from Wednesday.
The PCB and the Emirates Cricket Board were engaged in talks over hosting the remainder of PSL 2021 in Dubai and Abu Dhabi from June 1. The T20 league had to be suspended in March this year after multiple players tested positive for COVID-19.
The PCB was hopeful of completing the tournament in the UAE, but the travel ban has thrown a spanner in their plans. A source was quoted as saying in a PTI report in this regard:
“The PCB was expecting things to be finalised in the next 24 hours due to the Eid holidays in both countries, but now with this ban imposed by the UAE government till May 12, the only option available to the PCB is to hold the matches in Karachi.”
The source added that the PCB is not keen on hosting the remaining matches of PSL 2021 in Karachi or anywhere in Pakistan after the experience in March.
According to a PCB official, the National Command and Operations Authority, which is overseeing the COVID-19 situation in Pakistan, has also advised against playing PSL 2021 games in Karachi.
Another source added that Sri Lanka could be looked at as an alternate host of PSL 2021, but that would involve a lot of logistical and other hassles. The source elaborated in this regard:
“There is one more suggestion to have it in Sri Lanka if not in the UAE, but that would require a lot of logistical and other issues and will also be dependent on clearance from the government.”
Javed Miandad against resumption of PSL 2021
Even as the PCB is exploring various avenues to try and complete PSL 2021, former Pakistan captain Javed Miandad has hit out at the cricket board. He said that this is not the time to play cricket matches.
Miandad was quoted as telling a cricket website:
“I think this is not the right time to be playing cricket when all the focus is on saving lives from this dreaded virus. This is not the time to play cricket; it is the time to save lives. In these times of crisis, we should be more focused on saving lives rather than playing cricket.”
The former player further added in this regard:
“The whole world has been affected by the coronavirus. India, where the world cup was supposed to take place, is also severely affected by the epidemic.”
A few days back, the Indian Premier League (IPL 2021) too had to be suspended indefinitely after COVID-19 cases emerged in the bio-secure bubbles of multiple teams.