Ehsan Mani hopeful of hosting all PSL 2020 matches in Pakistan

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Darren Sammy and Sarfaraz Ahmed pose with the PSL 2019 trophy at Mazar-e-Quaid (Pakistan Super League)

All matches of the next edition of the PSL could be held in Pakistan, and not around UAE, with PCB chairman Ehsan Mani saying at the closing ceremony ahead of the PSL 2019 final at Karachi’s National Stadium, “Next year we look forward to welcome you back with all the PSL matches in Pakistan.”

“Today for Pakistan, especially for Karachi, it’s a historic day. Since PSL is in Karachi, over 200,000 spectators witness the games at the stadium and millions witnessed on TV and digital platform,” Mani said at the National Stadium, where over 30,000 spectators are attending the final of PSL 2019, between Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi.

“We should always remember that cricket is the one game that brings happiness and light in life and this lesson shouldn’t be forgotten.

“The biggest reward should be given to the people of Karachi, the way you people have supported and embraced PSL 4 here in your city. The love and support was extraordinary.

“Finally, I would like to say that all overseas players, officials and technical support teams, you have seen yourself the passion and love for cricket in Pakistan. Next year we look forward to welcome you back with all the PSL matches in Pakistan.”

Sindh chief minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, who attended the PSL final, hoped Karachi would continue to play a significant role in the return of international cricket to Pakistan. “Two years ago, I promised that we will bring the PSL matches to Karachi,” Shah said. “Last year, we hosted the final and this year we staged eight matches here. I salute the fans of Karachi who despite all problems helped us stage the final.

“The government of Sindh will strive for the return of international cricket in Pakistan and that too will start from Karachi. I thank all the foreign players for visiting Karachi and, in the end, I would say whoever wins the final, cricket will be the winner, people of Karachi will be the winner and Pakistan will be the winner.”

For the PCB, the PSL, now coming to the end of its fourth season, has been a platform to try and bring top-drawer cricket back to the country. The final of the 2017 edition was held in Lahore, followed by the last four games, including the final, in 2018. This year, the last eight games have been held in Karachi.

Alongside, international limited-overs series against a World XI, West Indies and Sri Lanka have also been held in the country over the past couple of years with considerable success.

The ongoing PSL started in the UAE, where 26 games were played, before the action shifted to Pakistan. Originally, three of the eight games were scheduled to be played in Lahore, followed by five in Karachi, but all games were moved to Karachi because of logistical concerns.

Earlier this month, Pakistan completed ten years since the country became a no-go zone – with rare exceptions – for international cricket teams, following the armed attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore. The PCB was forced to make UAE their home away from home and, before the recent tours, the only top-tier team to visit Pakistan were Zimbabwe, in 2015, for a limited-overs series in Lahore.

A short tour of three T20Is by an ICC-supported World XI in September 2017, in which a number of high-profile cricketers from around the world took part, led to a change of heart on the part of many visitors, to an extent. It was a key step for the PCB in its efforts to convince teams that the country is ready to host top-flight international cricket again.

This year, all overseas players involved in the PSL made the trip from the UAE to Karachi, including the usually reluctant Australian star Shane Watson, raising the profile of the tournament. (ESPNCricinfo)

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