KARACHI: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is set to take a major leap forward in its effort to bring top-level international cricket back to the country. And PCB chairman Ehsan Mani hopes that confidence will be inspired by the staging of the fifth edition of the HBL Pakistan Super League.
The PCB will bid for International Cricket Council events scheduled to be held after 2023, Mani announced on Wednesday, after the PSL trophy unveiling.
The PSL, which will be featuring as many as 34 matches across four cities, Mani claimed, will be the biggest cricketing event ever staged in Pakistan, and will open doors for the PCB to go after winning the hosting rights of global events.
“We are planning to aggressively bid for ICC events falling between 2023 and 2031,” Mani revealed during a presser at the National Stadium.
Pakistan have hosted two major ICC events — the 1987 and 1996 World Cups — plus the 2008 Asia Cup. The 1987 World Cup, which was jointly hosted by Pakistan and India, saw the former host 10 matches.
In the 1996 World Cup, 16 matches were staged in Pakistan while India and Sri Lanka hosted the remaining matches in what was another jointly hosted event. At the 2008 Asia Cup, Pakistan organised 13 matches.
“Pakistan hosted the 1987 and 1996 World Cups and the 2008 Asia Cup, none were bigger than PSL V,” said Mani.
“We will show the world that Pakistan has the depth and ability to host big events.”
In the ICC’s proposed suite of tournaments for the 2023-2031 broadcast rights cycle, there would be a T20 Champions Cup — a ten-team league event — in 2024 and 2028 and a One-day International Champions Cup — similar to what was previously the Champions Trophy — in 2025 and 2029, alongside the T20 World Cups in 2026 and 2030, and the ODI World Cups in 2027 and 2031.
This year’s Asia Cup is also scheduled to be held in Pakistan in September. However, with political tensions between Pakistan and India being a certain obstacle, the fate of the continental event is still unclear.
Mani, however, said the final decision on the Asia Cup would be taken keeping in view what was favourable to all Asian Cricket Council members collectively.
The former ICC president also gave a clear indication that the Arbab Niaz Stadium in Peshawar will be among the venues for the sixth PSL. Multan and Rawalpindi were brought into the PSL fold for this year’s edition.
The Arbab Niaz Stadium, along with the Bugti Stadium in Quetta, has undergone renovation recently and clearly looks to be in PCB’s plans as hosts for future events.
“Next year hopefully we’ll also see Peshawar hosting PSL matches. The city has been deprived of international cricket for a long time. Great work has been done to renovate the [Arbab Niaz] stadium and if the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government does its part we’ll definitely go for it,” Mani maintained.
Earlier, Pakistan’s squash legend Jahangir Khan, along with four of the six PSL team captains unveiled the PSL trophy at the National Stadium for this year’s edition.
Jahangir, the six-time world champion and ten-time British Open winner, said it was an honour for him to be chosen for the unveiling and urged other sporting federations to take PSL as an example for their revival.
Mani said that Jahangir was chosen for the ceremony to show that ‘Pakistan values its legends’ and that Jahangir was a symbol of excellence in the world of sport.
Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2020