The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has decided to relocate the scheduled matches in Lahore next month to Rawalpindi and Karachi due to the "recent deterioration in the air quality".
The air quality index in Lahore has risen to toxic standards over the past few days, prompting the PCB to consider the harmful effects on the health and wellbeing of the professional athletes and match officials.
The blanket of smog covering the Lahore sky caused by the onset of intense air pollution in the Punjab capital has forced the organisers to move the Zimbabwe T20Is to Rawalpindi whereas the remainder of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) will be held in Karachi.
Zimbabwe's touring party is currently in quarantine after landing in Islamabad on Tuesday. They will first clash with Pakistan in an ODI series in Rawalpindi starting October 30 while the T20Is are set to begin on November 7.
The fifth edition of the PSL will then recommence on November 14 in Karachi, four days after the conclusion of the T20Is. Incidentally, Karachi's National Stadium also hosted the last match of PSL 5 in March before the playoffs stage was postponed owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
All fixtures will take place behind closed doors with the T20Is starting at 3:30 pm local time. The solitary day game in the PSL will kick off at 3:00 pm while the night games are set for an 8:00 pm start.
Reflecting on the timely step taken, PCB CEO Wasim Khan said: “We have been keeping a close eye on air quality forecasts over the last two weeks. Following the sudden deterioration in air quality and now further expected air pollution in November, we have made a swift decision to move the matches scheduled in Lahore."
“The early onset of hazardous pollution and subsequent poor air quality meant that the risk to keep matches in Lahore at this stage was too great. An early decision was made to ensure logistical challenges could be dealt with sooner rather than later. We cannot and will not compromise on the health and wellbeing of the players or officials," he added.
Wasim thanked all the stakeholders for agreeing to the last-minute changes and looked forward to hosting a trouble-free Zimbabwe tour and playoffs phase of PSL 5.
“The decision to move matches from Lahore was not one that was taken lightly. For the sake of everyone involved and to ensure the remaining four matches of the HBL PSL and the three T20Is against Zimbabwe were completed without risk or interruption, it was important to move the matches," he elaborated.
“I am grateful to Zimbabwe Cricket, the franchise owners, broadcast partners and our valued commercial partners for their understanding in supporting our decision.
“We also want to thank the federal and provincial governments, as well as law enforcing agencies for their understanding and continued support.”
Pakistan v Zimbabwe
Sat, 7 Nov – 1st T20, Rawalpindi
Sun, 8 Nov – 2nd T20I, Rawalpindi
Tues, 10 Nov – 3rd T20I, Rawalpindi
HBL PSL 2020 (remaining four matches)
Sat, 14 Nov – Qualifier (Multan Sultans v Karachi Kings), Karachi; Eliminator 1 (Lahore Qalandars v Peshawar Zalmi), Karachi
Sunday, 15 Nov – Eliminator 2 (loser Qualifier v winner Eliminator 1), Karachi
Tuesday, 17 Nov – Final, Karachi