LAHORE: Amid rising political uncertainty in the country, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has started preparations to hold the One-day International series against the West Indies next month in Multan after receiving verbal instructions from the Punjab government to shift the series from Rawalpindi, the original venue, well-informed sources have told Dawn.

The three-match series is scheduled to be held at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi from June 8 to 12 and the PCB has not officially shifted the series to Multan.

After receiving the verbal instructions though the PCB has started the preparations for hosting the West Indies at the Multan Cricket Stadium, unless it gets written instructions from the provincial government, it will not make any official announcement about the change of venue, sources said.

Meanwhile, the PCB announced that the national camp for the West Indies series would be held in Lahore instead of Rawalpindi. The camp, scheduled to start on June 1, ends on June 4.

On June 5, the Pakistan squad will leave either for Rawalpindi or Multan while the West Indies party is due to arrive in Pakistan in the wee hours of June 6. Therefore, the newly-emerging scenario does not give the PCB much time to make a final call on devising the journey plan of the visiting team.

As security arrangements for an international series are made with the coordination between the federal and the provincial government, it is believed that incumbent PCB chairman Ramiz Raja will have a difficult task ahead with change in government both in Punjab and federal level.

Ex-Pakistan opener Ramiz was elected as PCB chairman during the era of former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan in September last year.

The federal government changed last month as a result of the no-confidence vote in Parliament after which Shahbaz Sharif — president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) which is a staunch political rival of PTI — was elected as the country’s prime minister. Rana Mashood, a key figure of the ruling party, during a media talk earlier this month explicitly advised Ramiz to leave the office saying the new government would have its own man as chairman.

Ramiz however is still working as PCB chief despite the fact that holding the forthcoming series against the West Indies, without the required cooperation and support from the government side may create a lot of problems.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2022

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