Shahid Afridi is among top cricketers who will feature in the tournament.
By Sports Reporter/Doha
Barely a month after it was announced with much pomp that the twice-postponed Pakistan Super League will be held in Doha from February 4-24, fans of the game in Qatar have some seriously bad news – the tournament could be now moved to the UAE, the Pakistan Cricket Board’s originally preferred venue.
While announcing the dates of the PSL in Lahore in late August, Najam Sethi, the chairman of the PCB’s Executive Committee, had stated: “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.”
However, a source in the UAE told the Gulf Times on Monday that “it is now 99.9% certain that Pakistan Cricket League will be held in the UAE.”
Sethi and other Pakistan cricket officials had held meetings in Doha with the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) after the PCB’s initial negotiations with authorities in the UAE to hold the tournament there failed because of a scheduling clash with the Masters Champions League (MCL), a newly-launched event featuring retired international players.
However, in a dramatic turn of events, the organisers of the MCL and the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) have now agreed to accommodate the PSL by being flexible about the dates of the MCL.
Newspapers in the UAE, Pakistan and India have also reported that the PSL would be played in Sharjah and Dubai, although nobody has officially confirmed it.
Meanwhile, a Qatar Cricket Association (QCA) official lashed out at the PCB for entering into negotiations with the UAE after agreeing to hold the tournament in Doha.
“Najam Sethi has held meetings with top officials of the Qatar Olympic Committee where it was decided that the tournament will be played in Doha. Now we are hearing that Pakistan is planning to move it to the UAE. This is simply shocking,” he said on the condition of anonymity.
The official also said the QOC had even scheduled the PSL in its calendar of events for 2016.
“Not only has been the PSL officially scheduled in the QOC’s sports calendar for 2016, authorities here have even started work on the Asian Town cricket stadium in Qatar which needs certain modifications to host an event of such magnitude.”
According to reports in Pakistan, several top international cricketers including Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard of the West Indies, Kevin Pietersen of England, besides Pakistani superstars such as Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq and Ahmed Shehzad will feature in the tournament.
Ever since the terrorist attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in 2009, Pakistan have been playing all their “home” matches in the UAE which hosts hundreds of thousands of Pakistani expats.
The PCB is also mindful of the fact that the UAE has multiple venues where the PSL’s matches could be played while Doha has only one which won’t be able to cope with the burden of hosting several matches.