LAHORE: Matches of the HBL Pakistan Super League will go ahead if franchises have 13 players available in case of a Covid-19 outbreak, it was decided in a meeting between team representatives and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) here on Monday.

The meeting saw an agreement signed between the board and the franchises. It included the SOPs that will be in place during the month-long tournament to ensure its not interrupted due to the virus.

All players will have to go through a three-day quarantine period after which they will have to clear the PCR test before being allowed to play in the PSL, which is set to be held in Karachi and Lahore from January 27 to February 27.

It has also been decided that the PCB will select a separate pool of 25 local players — who went unpicked in the main and supplementary drafts — and accommodate them in a bio-secure hotel where all teams are set to stay during the course of the event.

Teams severely hit by a Covid-19 outbreak will be allowed to pick from this pool of players if they don’t have 13 players available from their squad of 22.

According to the agreement, players and officials will not be allowed to bring along their families.

A PCB spokesperson told Dawn that the seventh edition of the PSL must be completed within the scheduled time. If the virus outbreak is worse, the league will be halted for seven days and following its resumption, the number of matches per day will be doubled.

The spokesperson said the decision was taken because there was no other window for the PSL to be held considering Pakistan’s jam-packed international cricket calendar at home this year with the likes of Australia, England, New Zealand to visit.

The spokesperson also confirmed that internationally active South African players will not be available for the tournament after the country’s cricket governing body Cricket South Africa denied them the NOCs.

CSA said it wanted its players to focus on their commitments with the national team and feature in domestic cricket events.

Two-year broadcast deal signed with consortium

Earlier on Monday, the Pakistan Cricket Board announced a television broadcast rights deal with a consortium of state-owned Pakistan Television (PTV) and private media giant ARY for the next two editions of the PSL.

In a press release issued, the PCB said the two media houses had submitted the highest bid at the aggregated fee of Rs4,350,786,786 — 50 per cent more than the last to secure the two-year-long home TV broadcast rights through a “robust and transparent” bidding process on December 23.

Another media giant Geo Entertainment was also in the race for the said deal but failed to secure the TV broadcast rights for the cash-rich T20 league.

Citing concerns regarding the bidding process, it had moved to the Lahore High Court only to get their petition against the PCB dismissed. However, the one against ARY and PTV is still pending and the next date is on January 19.

According to a PCB spokesperson, the litigation did not affect the signing of the deal, which was done on Sunday since the had not given a stay-order against it.

PCB chairman Ramiz Raja congratulated PTV and ARY on what he believed was a “historic deal”.

“HBL PSL has become a national identity and it attracts fans towards it,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2022

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