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“After India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, Pakistan also needs a T20 league." -Photo by AFP

ABBOTTABAD: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Zaka Ashraf is fully committed to launching the Pakistan Premier League and even hinted that foreign players might be invited for the tournament.

Talking to reporters at the Abbottabad Cricket Stadium here on Tuesday, Zaka said: “We are dedicated to holding the country’s first premier cricket league in March next year and hopefully the event will be a huge success.

“After India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, Pakistan also needs a T20 league and although we are facing difficulties in roping in a big sponsor, the game’s commercialisation means that we will find one with the passage of time.”

After India started its glitzy Indian Premier League (IPL), Bangladesh came up with the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) and Sri Lanka held the Sri Lankan Premier League (SLPL), leaving Pakistan as the only major cricketing nation in the region not to have its own league for the game’s shortest format.

Zaka, who was accompanied by Intikhab Alam, Javed Miandad and presidents of at least 11 regions of the country for the board of governors meeting, which was held here for the first time, also spoke about Pakistan’s star all-rounder Shahid Afridi’s recent dip in form.

“I have a lot of respect for each and every player who has played for Pakistan in any event and it is the job of selectors and team management to decide the fate of cricketers including Afridi,” he said.

Zaka also said that within the board, anyone who fails to justify his position with his work would be shown the door.

“There is no room for anyone who fails to justify his presence with his performance,” Zaka stressed. “Everyone has to play their role and the PCB will be monitoring each and every member’s performance.”

Earlier, Zaka was given a briefing by Shoukat Gul Khan Jadoon, manager of the Abbottabad Cricket Stadium, on the facilities and demands for improving the stadium.

“The PCB wants to expand the game of cricket in the every nook and corner of the country,” Zaka said. “We are looking to make Abbottabad a permanent centre for cricketing activities especially during summer as the altitude here is ideal for the preparation of the national team.

“We have given playing rights to Fata and will be moving forward in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa not only to encourage cricketers but also to provide equal chances to the sports journalists of the province for foreign tours.”

On the state of the stadium, Zaka said the PCB would construct a boundary wall and a spectators’ gallery with the provision of required equipment.

The PCB chairman also said that the board was giving full attention to the domestic structure with the Under-16 being their main area of focus.

“We aim to form a national junior side which will be trained by regional coaches,” Zaka said.

“Efforts will be made to enhance youngsters’ skills while also developing their mental calibre so that they are able to withstand pressure in big games in the future.”

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