PCB regrets India's blocking of PSL coverage over Pulwama attack

Updated February 18, 2019

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PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani (L) and PCB Managing Director Wasim Khan (R). ─ File photo
PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani (L) and PCB Managing Director Wasim Khan (R). ─ File photo

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has regretted India's blocking of "all digital coverage" of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2019 in light of simmering tensions between Delhi and Islamabad.

The PCB statement on Sunday came as the official Indian broadcaster for PSL, IMG Reliance, said it would no longer be producing live PSL matches.

PCB Managing Director Wasim Khan confirmed that the body had been informed by IMG Reliance "that they will be unable to partner with us for the remaining HBL PSL 2019 and PCB has reserved all its rights".

According to an Indian Express report, IMG Reliance wrote to PCB informing the body that it was "pulling out with immediate effect from broadcast production services for PSL", citing the Pulwama attack last Thursday as the reason behind the move.

PCB MD Khan said that the cricketing body had "also noted the recent turn of events and expresses its extreme disappointment as we have always believed and emphasised that sports and politics should be kept separate."

"History tells us that sports, particularly cricket, has always played a key role in building bridges between people and countries.

"Unfortunately, denying India cricket fans the right to follow HBL PSL by blocking all digital coverage as well as covering or removing portraits of former Pakistan cricket captain and Prime Minister Imran Khan and other legendary cricketers from one of the most historic cricket clubs and venues are highly regrettable actions," the statement continued, referring to removal of the premier's photographs from various cricket stadiums around India in the wake of the Pulwama attack.

Prime Minister Khan, who led Pakistan to a World Cup victory in 1992, is considered one of the best players ever, and his portrait is found at many grounds around the world.

But the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai and the Test ground at Mohali have led the portrait protests by removing pictures of Khan and other Pakistan stars.

"We respect the sentiments of the people of India who are angry about what happened in Kashmir. In protest we took off the pictures of all Pakistani players," Punjab Cricket Association treasurer Ajay Tyagi told AFP.

"We have kept them in safe custody and will see later what we are going to do about them," he added.

The PCB stated its intent to take up these incidents with the Board for Control of Cricket in India and the International Cricket Council (ICC) at the upcoming ICC committee meeting in Dubai later this month.

A new live broadcast partner is likely to be announced today following the signing of a new agreement, the PCB press release said.

"The PCB always had a contingency plan in place, and we are confident we will be in a position to announce the new partner on Monday after the completion of the formalities," the PCB MD said.

Pakistan and India only play each other abroad and are next scheduled to meet in the World Cup in England starting June 15.