In a shocking turn of events, just two hours before the start of the first semifinal between Multan Sultans and Peshawar Zalmi, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has announced the postponement of the knockout games of HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2020.
PCB will announce the rejigged schedule in due course. Many franchises were left in a quandary after being left with depleted squads. Peshawar Zalmi, in particular, were hit most by the exodus of overseas signings.
The government alongside PCB management were under pressure to take precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT#HBLPSLV postponed, to be rescheduled. More details to follow in due course.— PakistanSuperLeague (@thePSLt20) March 17, 2020
PSL was already abridged in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak as the playoffs were scrapped from the original schedule and two semifinals were planned to finish the tournament as quickly as possible.
BREAKING: HBL PSL 2020 postponed, knockout games to be rescheduled. More details to follow in due course #HBLPSLV— Cricingif (@_cricingif) March 17, 2020
Several top-flight overseas cricketers pulled out of the PSL V owing to the infectious disease. The players who left the tournament before the knockout games include:
Cricketer-turned-commentator Ramiz Raja told the media that PSL commentators and broadcasters are going to be tested for novel coronavirus in a few hours and he reports that Karachi Kings batsman Alex Hales has shown symptoms of the disease after returning to his homeland.
PCB CEO Wasim Khan will address the media shortly and share further details about this decision and the revised schedule.
PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan said: “This is absolutely the right thing to do after an overseas player, who will be tested in his country shortly, has shown symptoms of COVID-19.
“The PCB has also facilitated the process of carrying out immediate tests of all those who were involved with the HBL Pakistan Super League.
“This is an unprecedented situation, which is evolving with each passing day. The PCB has closely monitored the situation and had taken precautionary measures including consultation with relevant authorities and temperature screening of players, officials and media on match and non-match days.
“The PCB believes it has made the right decisions in the lead up to the postponement of the tournament that included consulting the team owners, holding the matches behind closed doors, allowing the players the option to withdraw from the tournament, rescheduling of the matches and reducing the number of event days.
“Obviously before postponing the tournament, we took into confidence the team owners.
“The PCB will use its reach and influence to play its part in all government’s drives and initiatives to create awareness and dealing with this pandemic. The PCB hopes and prays that normalcy returns quickly to our society so that everyone can return to a healthy and routine lifestyle and we can bring back cricket to the fans.”