Those who travel to Pakistan will be given a heroic status — Wasim Akram
In an attempt to convince foreign players to travel to Lahore for the final of the second edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL), Najam Sethi gave a detailed briefing on the security measures taken to ensure their safety in a ‘meet and greet’ event.
The PSL chairman emphasised on the security plans laid down by the security forces and reminded the overseas players about the positive remarks Giles Clarke had given following his two-day visit to Lahore last month.
“Clarke and his team were hugely impressed by the security arrangements we made at the stadium,” a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) release quoted Sethi. “The government has also made a huge investment in securing the city and rest assured we will provide fool proof security to the players who will travel for the PSL final,” he said.
The PSL announced to host the second edition’s final in Lahore last month. It also unveiled the plan of organising a draft before the playoffs to take the overseas players, who will not have reservations of traveling to Lahore, on board.
But with three of the five franchises fielding overseas captains this season, such development would misbalance the team setup.
“We are also having internationally reputed security consultants who will to travel to Dubai in the coming days to allay the doubts and fears of the players,” Sethi assured the gathering.
“We will provide detailed briefings in the days ahead and the players who travel for the final will be making a monumental contribution for passionate followers of the game in the country.”
Since the attack on the Sri Lankan team in 2009 in Lahore, Pakistan fans have been deprived of the top-flight cricket in their grounds. In the last eight years, Zimbabwe is the only Full Member to have toured Pakistan for five limited-overs fixtures, which were held at the Qaddafi Stadium in Lahore — the venue for the PSL II final.
Former Pakistan Test captain and PSL ambassador Wasim Akram recalled the 1996 World Cup to underscore the contribution the foreign players will make in Pakistan’s campaign to bring back the international cricket.
A team of cricketers from India and Pakistan toured Sri Lanka after Australia and the West Indies forfeited their matches in Colombo.
"We played a positive role in 1996 that was warmly welcomed in Sri Lanka, Akram said. "The foreigners who will travel to Lahore will receive a heroic status.”
Reminiscing his younger days when he was attracted towards the game, Akram said: “Growing up I saw legends like Michael Holding and Sunil Gavaskar play in the stadiums which was hugely inspiring. It is imperative that cricket returns to the country. Pakistanis are passionate about the game.My wife, an Australian, is staying in Karachi for the last four years and she is having a great time. Let me also remind you all that the government will do everything possible to ensure the safety of the players.”
PSL ambassador Ramiz Raja and veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik also spoke to the gathering.
The final is scheduled to be held on March 5.