Peshawar set to welcome top level cricket after 15 years

The PCB plans to add the Arbab Niaz Stadium in Peshawar as its fifth venue in the PSL next year. It was shut since the India-Pakistan ODI in 2006.

Spectators at the India-Pakistan ODI in Peshawar in 2006.   -  FILE PHOTO/S. SUBRAMANIUM

The India-Pakistan ODI in 2006 was the last international fixture at the Arbab Niaz Stadium in Peshawar.

Despite having an international stadium, Peshawar failed to host any cricket matches after that ODI due to terrorist activities in the region. After battling the threat for more than a decade, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is close to restoring peace in the region.

And now, the Pakistan Cricket Board plans to add Peshawar as its fifth venue for next year’s Pakistan Super League (PSL). It was decided during the PCB’s Board of Governors meeting on Friday. If the plan works out, Peshawar Zalmi franchise could play its home games at the new venue.

“As franchises, we always want to play at home and this is big news for all the stakeholders,” Javed Afridi, the owner of Peshawar Zalmi, told Sportstar. “Peshawar is known for its hospitality and the people are enthusiastic about cricket. So, for a city which hasn’t witnessed the game at the highest level for years now for various reasons, it is something to look forward to,” Afridi said.

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In February this year, the PCB chairman Ehsan Mani paid a surprise visit to the stadium and inspected the renovation work. The cost, with added modern facilities, was estimated to be Rs 1.70 billion (PKR).

After hosting the first four editions of the PSL in the UAE, the PCB hosted the fifth edition in four venues across Pakistan. While the tournament received huge response from the fans, the final stage of the tournament had to be postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. With four matches still remaining, the PCB plans to host the last-leg later this year.

For next year, the PSL is scheduled to be held in the February-March window. The details are like to be discussed at the General Council meeting in the first week of July.

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