Remaining PSL ties to be held in November: PCB

Updated 03 Sep 2020

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Bio-secure bubble for the players, match officials and event-related staff will also be provided. — AP/File
Bio-secure bubble for the players, match officials and event-related staff will also be provided. — AP/File

LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Wednesday announced the schedule of the remaining four HBL-Pakistan Super League 2020 matches which will now be held from Nov 14 to 17 in Lahore.

These four matches were postponed on March 17 due to Covid-19 pandemic emergency.

“The four PSL matches will be held in Lahore on November 14, 15 and 17 with only the Qualifier and Eliminator 1 to be a double-header. Eliminator 2 will be played on the following day, while the event will conclude on Tuesday, November 17,” a PCB press statement said.

“The dates have been finalised following consultations and discussions with the four playing sides — Multan Sultans, Karachi Kings, Lahore Qalandars and Peshawar Zalmi — while start times will be confirmed closer to the event,” it further added.

The matches will be held behind closed doors as per the current plan, though the situation will be closely monitored and will be reviewed in October. Bio-secure bubble for the players, match officials and event-related staff will also be provided.

However, despite the PCB’s statement, the question that remains unanswered is who will be the broadcaster of the four matches because the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is already in legal fight over payment issue with its official broadcaster Blitz Advertising and they both have approached an arbitration court in London where the case may be heard in January.

Broadcasting dispute creates confusion over telecast of matches

But since the matches are to be held in November, it is unclear whether both the parties will reach a consensus to continue with each other or the case in arbitration will create further problems for them.

When contacted, a PCB spokesman said the same broadcaster which had covered the entire PSL will cover the last four matches as well. The spokesman said that the legal issues between the PCB and Blitz were irrelevant as far as the broadcasting was concerned.

It may be mentioned here that the PCB had inked an agreement worth USD36 million with Blitz in 2018. But on the deferment of last four matches of the PSL due to Covid-19, a payment dispute erupted as the broadcaster held back a payout to the board for this season as it persuaded the PCB to cash an insurance guarantee from the broadcaster.

It forced the Blitz to take a stay order against the PCB act in a civil court in Lahore. Though later the PCB moved to the Lahore High Court, the higher court sent it back to the civil court to first get a decision. However, later both the parties moved to the Arbitration Court, London, where still the hearing is pending.

The PCB locked these dates as it would be in perfect working condition as the Zimbabwe team would have completed its tour of Pakistan around Nov 10. The itinerary of the Zimbabwe tour is yet to be announced.

Meanwhile, PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan said: “This announcement puts all speculations to rest and provides absolute clarity and ample time for teams to plan and prepare for these crunch matches.

“It was important at this stage to state our intent and lock these dates in the diary in the best interest of the teams and the tournament.

“The PCB was always keen and committed to hosting the remaining four matches as it believed an event of the magnitude of the HBL Pakistan Super League deserved a winner. We saw the excitement and buzz in the lead up to the competition earlier this year and look forward to promotional activations that will engage the fans once again.

“All domestic 2020-21 season matches will prove to be catalyst for the successful planning and delivery of the HBL Pakistan Super League 2021, which will be held in February/March next year. We look forward to once again bringing joy to the nation.”

Fixtures (start times to be confirmed in due course):

Nov 14— Qualifier (Multan Sultans v Karachi Kings), Gaddafi Stadium; Eliminator 1 (Lahore Qalandars v Peshawar Zalmi); Gaddafi Stadium

Nov 15 — Eliminator 2 ((loser Qualifier v winner Eliminator 1); Gaddafi Stadium Nov 17— Final; Gaddafi Stadium.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2020