The biggest cricket event in Pakistan is coming to its home ground and Pakistanis are literally going crazy. Third edition of the Pakistan Super League that kick-started on February 22nd in Dubai has reached its final stages. Last year, Lahore hosted the grand finale of the tournament however this year it will host two eliminator matches on March 20 and 21 while Karachi will host the final on March 25. We discussed the scenarios of teams playing in eliminators and now four teams will be playing in Pakistan; Karachi Kings, Peshawar Zalmi, Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators.
This is going to be the first high-profile match in Karachi since it last hosted one nearly a decade ago. Cricket fans are beyond excited and the official website that sold tickets for the PSL final has crashed.
Everything is going as planned but the only confusion arising is: Will the overseas players agree to play in Pakistan?
The four teams that have qualified for the playoffs are Quetta Gladiators, Karachi Kings, Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi. The independent security consultant Red Dickason has briefed the foreign players about the security arrangements and the players will decide whether they will move to Pakistan or not.
The four teams will travel to Pakistan on March 20. Some of the players have confirmed that they will play in Pakistan, some have refused while some have yet to decide.
It seems that just like last year Gladiators will return to Pakistan with a depleted squad as most of their overseas players have refused to play in Pakistan.
Among the players that expressed unwillingness to travel to Pakistan, the start batsmen Kevin Pietersen was prominent as he had already announced that is tournament was over.
“It’s with a heavy heart that I have to leave Dubai and go back to London,” said the English batsman in a video message. “I wish I could travel and unfortunately family is very important and it’s a family decision and I hope you can respect it. But we have an opportunity to win this tournament, we are still in the competition, and please support the purple team. I will keep on supporting and am totally on top of everything we do over the next couple of days.”
Jason Roy and Ben Laughlin are also unwilling to play the final matches while Rilee Rossouw and Shane Watson haven’t decided yet.
Quetta was struck with the same problem last year when it had to compete Peshawar Zalmi in the final. The team lost the final match due to last minute refusal by foreign players.
Gladiator fans are unpleased with the situation and so is the coach Moin Khan.
“I blame the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for this sad situation,” Moin said on Saturday. “I know the board will not like my comments. However, in future, only those overseas players should be included in the player draft who commit to also play in Pakistan, if required by their franchises.”
According to Mr. Moin the players who refused to visit Pakistan can be seen unsupportive of Pakistan cricket.
“The franchises pay them well to play in the PSL. However, when they refuse to travel to Pakistan, it upsets the balance of the concerned franchises, and also deprives our people of seeing competitive cricket.”
On the bright side, Sri Lanka’s Thisara Perera and Australian Chris Green have agreed to play in Pakistan.
Yorkshireman Tom Kohler-Cadmore and West Indian Johnson Charles are signed off at last minute to play the remaining matches.
Kevin Pietersen (OUT), Rilee Rossouw (undecided), Jason Roy (OUT), Shane Watson (undecided)
The defending Champion just like last year will come home with a near full-strength squad.
“Just like last year, this year too all our foreign players will travel to Pakistan for PSL playoffs,” confirmed team owner Javed Afridi.
The only player that will not be coming is Dwayne Smith but he has been replaced by Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hassan.
Darren Sammy (IN), Liam Dawson (IN), Andre Fletcher (IN), Riki Wessels (IN), Dwayne Smith (IN)
There has been no official statement released by the team yet but closer sources have confirmed that at least five overseas United players will come to Pakistan.
JP Duminy who hasn’t been granted an NOC by his home cricket board has signed an indemnity form with CSA and will travel at his own risk.
Luke Ronchi and Samit Patel have confirmed to play while Sam Billings and Alex Hales have yet to decide.
Sam Billings (undecided), JP Duminy (IN), Alex Hales (undecided), Luke Ronchi (IN), Samit Patel (IN)
Almost all of the Karachi Kings players have expressed their consent to visit Pakistan. Team owner Salman Iqbal has officially confirmed that except for Eoin Morgan, the entire squad is all set for the trip.
Eoin Morgan (OUT), Colin Ingram (IN), Ravi Bopara (IN), Lendl Simmons (IN), Joe Denly (IN)