Cricket

PSL 2021 – PSL set to resume on June 9, final on June 24 in Abu Dhabi

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The tournament will be played in Abu Dhabi, despite speculation in recent days that it was going to to be moved to Sharjah

The sixth season of the PSL will resume from June 9, with a final set for June 24. The tournament will be played in Abu Dhabi, despite speculation in recent days that it was going to be moved to Sharjah. The compressed schedule means there will be as many as six double-headers, with the early games starting at 5pm Abu Dhabi time, and the evening matches at 8pm local time.

The fate of the tournament was hanging in the balance for the last two weeks with several challenges around logistical arrangements and more crucially the pending approvals from Abu Dhabi government. One of the main roadblocks was getting the exemptions for the production crew from India and South Africa to land in the UAE. The delay in their visas and then clearances for chartered flight to land in the UAE caused a delay as they were meant to undergo 10 days in quarantine after their arrival.

The seven-day isolation period for players and staff who arrived in the UAE via chartered flights from Pakistan ended on June 2 but a delay in the arrival of the production crew forced the PCB to rejig the fixtures. The tournament was earlier meant to start not later than June 5 and they had considered Sharjah as an alternative venue where the quarantine rules are not as strict as in Abu Dhabi.

The PSL, before being moved to the UAE, was suspended midway in Pakistan in March after players and officials tested positive for Covid-19 within the bio-bubble. The PCB has had lengthy negotiations with the Abu Dhabi government to stage the tournament in the emirate, and got clearances but the resumption has not been as smooth as it was expected. Over the last 15 days, the PCB even came close to postponing the event further, but the board has now managed to put most of the pieces together and finalise on June 9 as the resumption date.

One of the biggest challenges was to wrap up the league before June 22 as the Pakistan squad was set to fly to England on June 23 which was later changed to June 25 after the ECB agreed to delay the start of the bilateral tour to accommodate the PSL. But there will be no change in the dates of the matches with the first game of the tour, an ODI in Cardiff, set to be played on July 8.

Overall, over 300 personnel – both from Pakistan and overseas – are in Abu Dhabi and a majority of them (other than the ones from India and South Africa) have already completed their quarantine.

The PCB had arranged a chartered flights for arriving in the UAE but those who were left behind due to visa glitches were made to fly through commercial flights, including Quetta Gladiators’ Sarfaraz Ahmed, who, along with a few other individuals, was not allowed to board a commercial flight from Lahore and Karachi to Abu Dhabi via Doha on last Sunday. They flew a day later to take a different route via Bahrain. There are still over seven personnel, including players and support staff waiting fo their visas.

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