KARACHI: The cancellation of the knockout stage of the HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 on Tuesday was the final nail in the coffin for the ill-fated T20 league in the wake of widespread pandemic outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

While discarded England batsman Alex Hales is currently self-isolating at his home after reportedly developing viral symptoms after returning from the PSL last Saturday in perfect health, various views had started emerging during the second leg of the league round PSL matches in Karachi.

After the decision was made to cut short the duration of tournament by four days last Friday, questions were raised in relevant quarters as to why the PSL was still being played when all major sporting events were shutdown.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one of the broadcasting team members expressed annoyance at the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)’s wisdom of continuing with the remainder of the competition once the outbreak multiplied at an alarming rate globally.

“Just can’t understand this logic [of still playing on] when the rest of the world had already started taking precautionary measures. I mean the PSL matches are still played, while is complete shutdown outside of Pakistan,” he told Dawn. “This is a huge catastrophe and every human being is clearly fearful of what is going on the earth at the moment. The pandemic of coronavirus is lethal to the extent there is pandemonium everywhere in the world.”

A broadcasting team technical crew member was of the view that the organisers were perhaps taking things for granted that they would get through the backend of PSL V without further problems.

“From the time foreign players started pulling out and advisory coming from local government to play behind closed doors, the tournament should have been indefinitely called off then and there,” he confided to Dawn. “What was the point in staging matches without top players in action with lots at stake for the teams involved? That should have served as a warning that things were not smooth as they appeared.

“It was simply absurd to have three fixtures in Karachi played sans the crowds. I’m pretty sure eerie surroundings in the backdrop [of the playing field] were extremely painful for the viewers back home.

“The whole atmosphere from Friday onwards was surreal for us inside the National Stadium with no fans there to gee up the players or enjoy themselves. Even you guys in the media centre must have felt the same thing like the rest of us did in the last few evenings,” he went on. ”I must add that all of us were more or less flirting with danger in the line of duty.”

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2020