Lahore: Pakistan Cricket Board management committee chairman Najam Sethi on Sunday announced that HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2023 matches in Lahore and Rawalpindi will “continue as scheduled”.
Sethi expressed his gratitude to Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi for being “kind enough to agree to share cost of lighting routes during PSL matches in Lahore”.
The Punjab government and PCB had remained locked in negotiations over security arrangements for the matches in Lahore and Rawalpindi with the former demanding Rs450 million for security.
According to a press release issued by the PCB later, the agreement between the Punjab government and cricket board is on a “one-off basis”.
“It gives me immense satisfaction that the passionate and die-hard cricket fans of Lahore will now be able to see in action, modern day’s best T20 cricketers and enjoy them battle out for the prestigious Supernova Trophy. Following matches played in Karachi and Multan, the league has already set the tone for thrilling and exciting matches ahead, and I am confident that more entertaining and nail-biting games will be played over the coming days.
“I am also thankful to the franchise owners for their overwhelming and unconditional support to the PCB throughout this process. We remain committed to working with the local governments and sharing with them ideas and suggestions on how they can utilise the HBL PSL more strategically to generate revenues,” the press release quoted Sethi as saying.
The Punjab government had previously agreed to light up the route from the team hotels to the Gaddafi Stadium, but its standoff with the PCB had continued to drag on, making it seem like the PSL would be shifted from Lahore and Rawalpindi to Karachi after an agreement on security expenditure eluded the two sides, on Saturday.
The Punjab government had lowered its demand for security funds — from Rs450m to Rs250m — but the PCB was refusing to flinch, stating that it was the obligation of the government to provide protection to the teams, as per the agreements signed in 2014 for the restoration of international cricket in Pakistan.
The PCB had taken its patron-in-chief Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the loop as well.
Mansoor Qadir, focal person for the Punjab government ministerial committee, had told Dawn that the lights would remain installed as the government did not want to snatch the glitzy T20 extravaganza away from the citizens of Lahore. However, he had maintained that the provincial cabinet would not enter into further negotiations with the PCB until the latter committed to pay Rs250m for the purchase of security lights, for future use.
After the Punjab cabinet met on Saturday to formalise its stance on the issue, the PCB had held a meeting of its own to discuss the issue. Sources in the board had confirmed that it had received a verbal offer from the government to reduce the amount to Rs250m but the board did not agree.
Sources had said the PCB was clear in its stance, but the government was not. “First, it sent a budget asking the PCB to pay Rs900m, then gradually reduced it and has now come down to Rs250m,” the source had said.
Schedule of remaining matches
Feb 27: Lahore Qalandars vs Islamabad United, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Mar 1: Peshawar Zalmi vs Karachi Kings, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
Mar 2: Lahore Qalandars vs Quetta Gladiators, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Mar 3: Islamabad United vs Karachi Kings, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
Mar 4: Lahore Qalandars vs Multan Sultans, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Mar 5: Islamabad United vs Quetta Gladiators, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
Mar 6: Quetta Gladiators vs Karachi Kings, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
Mar 7: Peshawar Zalmi vs Lahore Qalandars, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi; Islamabad United vs Multan Sultans, Pindi Cricket Stadium
Mar 8: Peshawar Zalmi vs Quetta Gladiators, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
Mar 9: Islamabad United vs Lahore Qalandars, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
Mar 10: Peshawar Zalmi vs Multan Sultans, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
Mar 11: Quetta Gladiators vs Multan Sultans, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
Mar 12: Islamabad United vs Peshawar Zalmi, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi; Lahore Qalandars vs Karachi Kings, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Mar 15: Qualifier, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Mar 16: Eliminator 1, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Mar 17: Eliminator 2, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Mar 19: Final, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore.