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LAHORE: While disclosing that the ongoing Independence Cup would not be a profitable venture, Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Najam Sethi on Wednesday said the activity was the first step towards reviving international cricket which would help gradually improve PCB’s finances in future contests.

“Yes, the PCB will lose money in holding this Independence Cup. Currently, we face several problems and one of the major ones concerns finance. However after the Independence Cup, when we in phases start holding international matches in Karachi and other centres, the country will be able to host full series with matches staged in all the cities, and this will improve our financial position,” Sethi said while addressing a news conference alongside ICC chief executive Dave Richardson ahead of the second T20 between Pakistan and the ICC World XI at the Gaddafi Stadium here on Wednesday.

The PCB over the years could not earn any money while hosting the home series at neutral venues of the UAE; rather it increased the financial problems of the Board, Sethi lamented.

According to some media reports, the PCB is spending US$2.5-3 million for staging the three-match Independence Cup against World XI. The reports also say that the PCB is handing out approximately $100,000 to each player in the World XI squad while the rest of the amount will be going for logistics.

Commenting on the ongoing Independence Cup, the PCB chief admitted that watertight security measures -- delaying the arrival of many fans looking to enter the Gaddafi Stadium -- along with high-priced tickets somehow prevented the venue from getting filled to capacity.

However, the PCB chairman commended the efforts made by the security agencies and Punjab government for providing top-notch security for safely conducting the Independence Cup.

“The PCB made a mistake by introducing high-priced tickets for the Independence Cup but the prices will be reduced for future series,” conceded Sethi.

He revealed that the PCB would try to host a full member team by next year a Test series in Pakistan.

“The magnificent victory in the ICC Champions Trophy [in June this year] coupled with the Test team’s top ranking [for a brief period last year] lifted our cricket to a new level and now the world [teams] want to play series with Pakistan,” he said.

Without naming India, Sethi said the countries which were not realising the significance of playing with Pakistan would damage their own cricket.

Sethi said the PCB had invited Pakistan’s former greats to watch the Independence Cup matches, adding those who came were welcomed while those who did not it was their decision.

APP adds:

Sethi disclosed that a World XI side will again visit Pakistan in 2018 and 2019 to further help promote international cricket in the country.

“The [ongoing] World XI visit has paved the way for the return of international cricket to Pakistan and apart from the visit of other foreign teams World XI will again tour our country in 2018 and 2019,” the PCB chief stated at the presser.

“When the World XI next time tour Pakistan they will have the services of more top players from across the cricketing world.”

Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2017