Pakistan Super League 2017 February 27, 2017

PSL aims to finalise foreign players list for Lahore

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Karachi Kings and Quetta Gladiators are expected to face the most difficulty with the PSL final set to be played in Lahore © PCB/PSL

With only three matches left in the UAE, the Pakistan Super League and its franchises are beginning the process of figuring out which foreign players will travel to Lahore, where the final is scheduled for March 5.

On Sunday evening in Dubai, Karachi Kings became the last team to qualify for the play-offs. They begin on Tuesday in Sharjah, with Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators, the two teams that finished top, playing each other. Looming over the games, though, is the question of who from the foreign contingents of the four teams is ready to travel to Lahore.

The PSL management is expected to further brief the overseas players before the play-offs begin and the primary aim remains to try and convince as many of them as possible to make the trip. However, preparations are also underway to create a nominated pool of foreign players willing to travel in case the finalists' current roster pulls out.

On Monday, the Punjab government finally gave a public go-ahead to the staging of the final in Lahore. In theory, that ends the uncertainty of recent days caused by a wave of terrorist attacks across Pakistan that have claimed over 100 lives, including a suicide attack in Lahore two weeks ago when 13 people were killed.

There was another blast in the city last Thursday, when at least seven people perished, heightening nerves and casting fresh doubt on the sense of bringing the final to Lahore. Though reports initially said it was a bomb, the government has since claimed it to be the result of a gas leak from a cooking cylinder.

Senior league officials have worried over the fluidity of the situation, and had been waiting for a definitive go-ahead from government authorities. With that now in hand, the situation of the foreign players needs resolution. Najam Sethi, the PSL chief who was in Pakistan on Monday, said: "I will be going back to Dubai now and once the finalists are confirmed I will again talk to the franchise owners and foreign players. We have also prepared a back up list of foreign players in case the overseas signings of the finalist teams refuse to come to Lahore. "

Kumar Sangakkara, who was in the team bus which was attacked in Lahore eight years ago, is almost certain not to travel to the city again © PCB/PSL

Of the four remaining teams, Peshawar are the most confident their foreign contingent will go to Lahore should they reach the final. No player, however, has come outright and said so yet. And though no official word has come from Islamabad United, it is believed neither Brad Haddin nor Shane Watson will stay on.

The two teams who might face greatest difficulties are Quetta Gladiators and Karachi Kings. Kevin Pietersen, of the former, will almost certainly not travel and Tymal Mills is also unlikely. Others such as Luke Wright and Rilee Roussow, who were considering making the trip, are said to have reassessed after the recent spate of attacks.

Officially Karachi say their players will make a decision once the team's fate is clear. Until then, it is said, their players do not want to "jinx" their chances of getting to the final by talking about it.

It is almost inconceivable that Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, two players who were in the team bus in Lahore when it was attacked eight years ago, will travel. They have told officials that they cannot take the decision alone and have to consult with their families. And the call they make could potentially have an impact on what Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard do as well.

One-off payments, ranging from USD 10,000 - 50,000, are being offered to foreign players should they agree to play in Lahore. That, as one foreign player considering taking part in the final pointed out, brings its own complications. "What is the difference in me playing in Lahore under a security threat and a Pakistani player doing so?" he said. "In any attack both are at risk. And physios and masseuses? A life is a life, mine or a Pakistani player's."

In case the teams end up severely shorthanded, a pool of nominated foreign players could be roped in. The list, initially of 54 names, has now grown to above 60 and is said to be composed of those who were not picked in the draft last October as well as additional names from outside the draft, who are willing to travel to Pakistan.

Each franchise will nominate five to six players from the long list and hand it to the PSL, who hope that ultimately, accounting for common names that appear in multiple lists, they have a shortlist of 12 to 15 waiting on standby to participate in the final.

Osman Samiuddin is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • cricfan91076469 on March 1, 2017, 6:21 GMT

    why Chris gayle not come in Pakistan

  • David on March 1, 2017, 0:06 GMT

    What's interesting to me is that even some of the Pakistani fans on this thread are advising against playing the final in Lahore.

  • Iam_Nafis on February 28, 2017, 14:59 GMT

    Better they can call some Indian T20 Stars like Raina, Yuvraj & Bumrah.

  • g13s4g7886797 on February 28, 2017, 14:57 GMT

    Best of luck PAKISTAN, a nation that deserves such sport events but is deprived due to hostile elements.

    Though some people may think its too early but every sport lover agree that sports should be resumed asap.

  • rezaqa7196644 on February 28, 2017, 13:02 GMT

    PSL 3 final in Karachi.... Wow great news for kings.....

  • rezaqa7196644 on February 28, 2017, 12:44 GMT

    More certain n definite views from writer would ve been great... More unlikelys n most likelys...

  • Andy on February 28, 2017, 11:33 GMT

    Even though, getting cricket back to Pak is a good thing - this is not a good time for it. Just a while ago Pak residents were saying it was too long since an terrorist attack took place & as far as I'm reading the world news in around last 10-15 days at least 6 attacks took place killing over 100 people. Say one or two attacks are common at most countries these days but over 5 attacks with in a couple of weeks is an horror story. If god-forbid something happens during this PSL final, Pak can bid adieu for cricket for long & may be even put other sports in jeopardy as well.

    This is a time to stabilize the country. You got nothing to prove at the moment. Have an stable environment & then you could call may be the ex-greats or the ones like Gayle who don't have a proper national contracts to play more than a couple of friendlies, say like Pak XI vs World XI or something, you can come up with or why not have a best of 3-PSL final teams playing again. Good Luck folks.

  • fazi306567308 on February 28, 2017, 10:21 GMT

    To the ppl who are posting against this match to be held in Pakistani should know that this is the decision Pakistani ppl made. You do not like it, it's totally fine with us. Why Pakistan is targeted this way, there are many European countries where things like this happened outside their stadiums, did ppl quit playing there. It is a request to whoever is reading please support this decision, you will making a great contribution to Pakistan.

  • Amjad on February 28, 2017, 9:51 GMT

    JAI_SHARMA90: Before commenting, you should have taken some time to study the whole situation. People have been targeted from all walks of life over the past few years, they didn't make a distinction whether they are worshipers, businessmen or just simply out in the market for shopping. People will be targeted with or without cricket so why not play with our full might instead of being scared?

  •   Dhruv Deepak on February 28, 2017, 9:21 GMT

    What is this ridiculous obsession with hosting one T20 match (albeit a final) in Lahore? Bribing players to 'risk' their security in the middle of a plethora of bombings, creating alternative squads, and not having a plan for what to do 5 days out from said final greatly reduces the value of this new cricket property.

    It would almost be easier in retrospect to transport 5,000 fans to Dubai for the final (in terms of cost, logistics and maintaining the integrity of the tournament).

    Having one T20 match in Pakistan does absolutely nothing to return cricket to Pakistan, as evidenced by the Zimbabwe series last year.

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