Foreign players uncertain over playing in Pakistan leg in PSL

Morgan, Roy and Hales have already publicly made it clear they will not be available for the PSL play-off matches in Lahore or the final in Karachi on March 25, if their franchises qualify.

England’s limited overs captain Eoin Morgan joined Karachi Kings in Sharjah on Monday. (File Photo)   -  AP

As the third edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) enters its decisive stage, uncertainty remains over how many foreign players will travel to Lahore and Karachi for the two play-off matches and the summit clash.

England’s limited overs captain Eoin Morgan joined Karachi Kings in Sharjah, as did other English stars like Jason Roy (Quetta Gladiators), Alex Hales and Sam Billings (Islamabad United) on Monday. But none of them are willing to travel to Pakistan because of security concerns.

Morgan, Roy and Hales have already publicly made it clear they will not be available for the play-off matches in Lahore or the final in Karachi on March 25, if their franchises qualify. Doubts also remain over whether Billings will come to Pakistan.

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England’s former Test batsman Kevin Pietersen, a big draw in the PSL, and who plays for Quetta, has made it clear at a press conference in Dubai that he would not travel to Lahore or Karachi.

Similarly, Australian Shane Watson has also said if his team Quetta qualifies for the play-offs and final, he would talk to his family before deciding on travelling to Pakistan.

Sri Lanka’s former captain Kumar Sangakarra also remains undecided and has said he will look into the matter when it is time to cross the bridge.

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Sangakarra was in the Sri Lankan team which was attacked by militants in March 2009 in Lahore, leading to the isolation of Pakistan as an international cricket venue and forcing the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to not only hold its home series, but also the PSL in the Emirates.

In 2017, when the PSL final was held in Lahore, the foreign players of Peshawar Zalmi franchise, including its captain Darren Sammy, agreed to play in Pakistan, but all the foreign stars of Quetta Gladiators backed out.

PCB Chairman Najam Sethi said as a back up plan, franchises can keep strong replacements ready for the matches in Pakistan, in case some of their foreign players did not travel with the teams.

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“I think, last year, we have shown that we can provide the best security cover for international matches in Pakistan. Security experts from the ICC and FICA have also visited Lahore and Karachi, and inspected the security arrangements there. So there is nothing to worry about for our foreign players in the PSL,” he said.

He noted that after the PSL final in Karachi, the city would also host three T20 Internationals against the West Indies, in the first week of next week.

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