For the past few weeks, the PSL management was facing the dilemma of whether to stage the final of the tournament in Lahore or Dubai. After thorough consideration, the management finally announced that with or without foreign players, the final of the PSL will be held in Lahore, the home of the tournament. Immediately after the announcement, fans were divided in their opinion of whether the PSL management had taken the right decision, given the security situation of the country. On one hand, many fans expressed their support for the tournament and were excited that the tournament was coming home. On the other hand, some fans along with Ex-cricketers and current politicians, criticized the decision of the board with one politician going as far as saying that “it is madness to hold the final of PSL in the country”. With the foreign players of Quetta Gladiators along with foreign commentators and the Production Company Sunset Vine backing out, many people are claiming that the decision has backfired on the management and will negatively impact the tournament. However, in my opinion, the PSL management has taken the right decision and here is why.
- It might bring international cricket back in the country
While many commenters will be quick to point out that if international players don’t participate in the tournament then the tournament final will do nothing to bring international cricket back in the country. However, as Najam Sethi stated during his television show earlier in the week, 8 security experts including two experts from ICC will be travelling to Pakistan to monitor security in the final hence, if the final goes as planned then there is a possibility that through the PSL, the PCB is able to send a strong message to the ICC that the country is ready for international cricket. Moreover, the PSL chairman has also specified that they have replacement of other foreign players available who are willing to travel to Pakistan. Thus, the possibility that foreign players will participate in the tournament isn’t ruled out as of yet. Despite the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Tymal Mills and Luck Wright pulling out, if other foreign players take part in the final then the objective of the management will be achieved.
- The home fans deserve to see their league live
Aside from the series against Zimbabwe, ever since the Sri Lankan team was attacked, cricket fans in the country have been deprived of international cricket and last year when the Pakistan super league was announced, many fans were disappointed that the tournament wasn’t happening in the country. With the final happening in Lahore, cricket fans in the country will finally get to see the premier tournament live. Furthermore, the players will also have a chance to play in front of their home crowds. Many people are arguing that without foreign players the final match is just another glorified domestic game but the excitement of the fans can already be seen with the tickets of the stadium selling like hot cakes despite the fact that few international players have pulled out. With so much excitement, fans in the country deserve to see their league live.
- Someday we have to break the ice
While many people would say that the PCB has taken unnecessary risk, the fact is that someday the board had to take a stand to bring back high profile cricket in the country. Terrorism is present throughout the world, places like India and Bangladesh also face security problems but the cricket boards of both countries make sure that international cricket remains active in their country. Pakistan cricket board cannot stand back forever and schedule the team’s matches at neutral venues. Lack of international cricket in the country has already significantly damaged Pakistan cricket thus, it is important that PCB finally stages a high profile match in the country to show that Pakistan is ready for the return of international cricket. Another argument raised is; that one match with so much security would make no difference, however, the final of PSL will act as the first step to bring the entire league in the country and eventually international cricket back in the country.
- It is the Pakistan super league after all
Since PSL is a brand of the country, it is only right that some part of the tournament, be it just one match, takes place in Pakistan. Fans would love to see the foreign players in Lahore but at the end of the day, PSL is a platform for Pakistani cricketers to showcase their skills and develop themselves. Cricket is the heartbeat of the Pakistani nation and even if people claim that one match cannot make a difference and playing cricket matches with armed gunmen around the ground will not send the message of peace, the fact is that PSL is a high profile tournament and its success can help in the revival of international cricket.
- It will generate higher revenue for the PCB
As of this moment the PCB has already earned almost 17 crore rupees from the sales of tickets of the final match. Furthermore, there is an expectation that more tickets will be sold thus, it can be deduced that organizing the final match in Lahore has proved to be quite lucrative for the PCB. The matches in Dubai and Sharjah managed to attract fans however; one could see quite a few empty seats during the match. This will certainly not be the case in Lahore where the tickets have already sold out. One cannot deny the fact that simply from an economic point of view, one can see the benefit that PCB gets by bringing the final to Lahore where the passion of the fans is unparalleled.
At the end of the day, regardless of the fact that whether foreign players take part in the tournament or not, we should hope that we get to see quality cricket from both teams and the security arrangements are up to the mark to ensure the final happens with out any problems.