Hosting the PSL final in Lahore is a bad idea
After continuous hype and controversy, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has finally given the go-ahead to hosting the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final in Lahore on March 5th. Following the announcement, many international players have decided not to participate if their team reaches the final. Adding to that, the famous panel of international commentators headed by the likes of Danny Morrison and Ian Bishop are also not traveling to Pakistan with the rest of the crew. So the real question that still remains unanswered is, is hosting the final in Lahore really worth it?
Here are three reasons why the decision of hosting the PSL final in Pakistan could backfire big time:
1. PSL broadcasting company pulls out of final
Following the footsteps of international players and commentators, the UK-based broadcasting company, Sunset and Vine has annulled their contract with the PSL and have refused to participate in the final. Adding to that, firms that were hired to facilitate hawk-eye technology and spider-cam have also decided to not partake in the event.
The final will be broadcasted without the use of such technology with there being a strong likelihood of a drone camera being used instead of the spider-cam. As emergency replacement, the Dubai-based Innovative Production Group will take over the broadcast production of the PSL final.
One of the most attractive features of the PSL was the graphics and the impressive use of technology, courtesy of Sunset and Vine. After their withdrawal, however, we may not witness the same crisp quality with different camera angles that we have been used to seeing since the start of the league.
2. Unequal competition
The withdrawal of key international players means that the final may prove to be a lacklustre one considering the quality of players leaving their franchises. Supposedly, if the Karachi Kings and Peshawar Zalmi reach the final, Karachi’s international players including the likes of Chris Gayle, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene have already refused to play, along with Quetta Gladiators’ foreign players Kevin Pietersen, Luke Wright, and Tymal Mills. Hence, if Zalmi players like Darren Sammy and Chris Jordan decide to come and play, Zalmi is likely to have an upper hand.
There is also a belief that Najam Sethi should consider recruiting local players. Although the idea is worth giving a second thought to, the element of excitement and thrill that the international players brought to the field may well be gone.
3. Evident security threats
Even though the Punjab government has given the green signal to host the final in Lahore, there is still a huge risk owing to the deteriorating security conditions of Lahore. Having been under attack twice in a week recently, the city is in danger of having been attacked once again. Furthermore, it is justified for players like Sangakkara and Jayawardene to not participate in the final as the two players were present in the team bus in Lahore when it was attacked eight years ago.
Not being too sceptical here, but if (God Forbid, and I hope I am wrong) something happens to the fans or the players, we can say goodbye to the hopes and dreams of getting international cricket back to Pakistan once and for all. Backing the claim of many like me, former World Cup winning captain turned politician, Imran Khan said in a recent statement that thinking of hosting the PSL final in Lahore is “madness”.
“God forbid, if any blast takes place in Lahore, there will be no cricket in Pakistan in the next 10 years. This is madness considering the situation here. In my view, it is a terrible idea. We want to hold this match by calling in army and blocking roads and there will be high security. This will not send a good message.”
The primary reason of hosting the PSL final in Lahore was to bring international cricket back to Pakistan. But if the players, along with the commentators and the broadcasting company, are too afraid to even think about traveling to Pakistan, what’s the point of hosting the final if you are only going to recruit local players? According to Imran,
“What’s the point of holding the PSL final in Lahore? It isn’t even an international match.”
I, for one, am in no position to blame the players who have or are thinking of withdrawing from the final, simply because of the fact that Lahore has been under the terrorists’ radar for the past two weeks.
This is one of the few times when I am hoping and praying that whatever is going on in my head turns out to be wrong. I really hope I am wrong, and everything leading up to and after the final unfolds in peace.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.