The Pakistan Super League will be held from February 4-24 at the Asian Town Cricket Stadium in Doha’s Industrial Area
In a historic initiative, Qatar will host the million-dollar Pakistan’s Super Twenty20 League in February next year, giving cricket-starved fans in the country a rare chance to witness some of the world’s best players in action from close quarters.
Najam Sethi, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) executive committee, announced yesterday in Lahore that the Pakistan Super League (PSL) will be held from February 4-24 at the Asian Town Cricket Stadium in Doha’s Industrial Area which will undergo certain modifications to host an event of such magnitude.
“The PSL will be held in Doha from February 4-24 with prize money of $1mn and we are getting encouraging responses from sponsors and foreign players,” said Sethi, a former PCB chairman.
Pakistan was in negotiations with the Qatar Olympic Committee and the Qatar Cricket Association (QCA) after efforts to hold the event in the UAE failed to materialise.
The event was announced in 2013 but was postponed twice – in 2014 and 2015 – over sponsorship and logistics problems.
The idea behind staging the league was to give Pakistani players a chance to compete with and against top foreign players, something which the national players do not get as international cricket has been suspended in the country after terrorists attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009.
Sethi said the PCB expects about 25 non-Pakistanis to figure in the tournament.
“We are in talks with 40 foreign players and we expect some 25 to sign for the league and out of these 15 will be world class players,” Sethi said of the planned league.
Four West Indians and two players each from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa were amongst the targeted names, he said.
However, he added that no player from India was on the PSL target list as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) does not allow its players to feature in a foreign league.
Pakistani players figured in the inaugural Indian Premier League in 2008 but were subsequently barred for reasons not yet fully explained officially. Unofficially, though, it is believed that the Indian authorities were under pressure from Hindu nationalist parties like the Shiv Sena who are against any sporting ties with Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the Qatar Cricket Association (QCA) welcomed the PCB announcement, saying its efforts to bring big-time action to Qatar have paid off.
“We are grateful to the Qatar Olympic Committee for supporting us in our efforts to promote cricket,” QCA official Gul Khan told Gulf Times.
“We are yet to finalise the details about the agreement to host the tournament and we hope this will be done soon.”
Sharjah became the first city in the Gulf to stage big-ticket cricket events when it hosted an ODI between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 1984.
Subsequently, it evolved into a major cricketing centre outside the subcontinent with the Cricketers Benevolent Fund Series (CBFS) held regularly for the benefit of players. Eventually, Dubai and Abu Dhabi also emerged as major centres hosting ODIs and Test matches on a regular basis.
Qatar staged three unofficial one-dayers between near full-strength Indian and Pakistani sides in 1998, the lack of proper facilities became a stumbling block in the development of the game, although the QCA remains optimistic about the future.
“Two years ago we staged a women’s ODI series between South Africa and Pakistan. Now with the Pakistan Super Twenty20 League coming up, we hope to see more international cricket in Qatar,” said Khan.
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