LONDON: A top international cricket official insisted Sunday that the final of Pakistan’s Twenty20 super league must be held in Lahore despite a major bomb attack in the country last week. Giles Clarke, head of an International Cricket Council team seeking to revive cricket in the country, said the March 5 final of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Lahore would be a key part of efforts to revive cricket in the country. “PSL is Pakistan’s domestic event and its final should be held in Lahore,” Clarke told in London. “It is really important that the final should be held successfully.” Clarke, who visited Pakistan last month to study security arrangements for international teams, said reviving international cricket in Pakistan will take time. “It’s a long road for the return of bilateral international cricket to Pakistan. On my recent visit, I noticed that not just the authorities but the man in the street is seeking the return of cricket to Pakistan,” said Clarke, a former chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board. “Terror has no place in our society,” said Clarke. “Terrorists should share whatever arguments they have or use ballot boxes.”
Clarke praised Pakistan cricket fans. “Pakistanis are cricket fanatics and have a great knowledge of cricket and I am sure they want to see their heroes and their own players playing at home and enjoy thrilling matches.” Talking to DawnNews, Clarke said holding the PSL final in Lahore would send a strong message to terrorists that “we will not bow down to them”. “I have a very strong opinion that we should never, ever allow terrorism and terrorists to dictate what we do. Terrorists have no place in our society or anywhere on earth,” Clarke said. “Pakistanis are cricket fanatics and have a great knowledge of cricket and I’m sure they want to see the best players playing at home and enjoy thrilling matches.” Clarke said he was impressed with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and Punjab government’s efforts to provide the best security for the PSL final. He appreciated “the massive investment made… the determination of the people of Punjab, and the dedication they show (for holding the PSL final in Lahore). It is critical, in my judgement, that Pakistan succeeds in doing so.” Clarke hinted that he will visit Lahore when the final will be played there. He praised the standards of the PSL, saying that he enjoyed some of the “thrilling matches”. “There is a lot of unpredictability about games and it is exciting… The premier domestic event of Pakistani cricket must be held in Pakistan so that the people of Pakistan are able to watch and enjoy cricket.”
The owners of all five Pakistan Super League franchises will sit with the league’s management tomorrow to discuss whether the final could be played in Lahore or not. The meeting is likely to finally decide the fate of PSL final, which was earlier scheduled to be held in Lahore on March 5th. “Najam Sethi, the chairman of PSL, will brief the franchise owners about the arrangements made for the final,” said a source. “Franchise owners will also share their point of views regarding the final, and most of the team owners have concerns over playing the final in Lahore,” the source added. At least two franchise owners have, off the record, expressed their concerns over the final in Lahore. Foreign players are also reluctant to speak and discuss the matter of playing final in Lahore. Clouds of uncertainty currently loom over the final of the tournament, which is scheduled to be held in Lahore next month. KP, Sammy yet undecided: Quetta Gladiators’ Kevin Pietersen and Peshawar Zalmi’s Darren Sammy said they hadn’t made up their minds yet about visiting Lahore for the planned final of the PSL. Talking to journalists in Sharjah after his 42-ball-88 that took the match away from Lahore Qalandars, Pietersen said that it is not yet the time to think about whether to visit Lahore or not for the final of PSL 2017. “I don’t know, I am not so sure. I am going to wait and see. I will take a decision if Quetta get there, then I will make a decision,” KP said. Sammy said: “Right now, I am not really looking forward to the final. I can see the tournament is wide open. We need to get to the final first and I am telling my guys to just focus and play some good cricket now. When that time comes, we will look into it,” said Sammy, who has never travelled to Pakistan in his entire career.