On March 20, the Pakistan Super League will move from the UAE to Lahore, which will host the two Eliminator matches, and then to Karachi for the final on March 25. This will be the highest-profile match in Pakistan’s most populous city in nearly a decade. Which overseas players, however, will make it to Pakistan for these marquee clashes?
The independent security consultant Reg Dickason has briefed the overseas players from the four teams that have made the playoffs – Islamabad United, Karachi Kings, Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators – about security arrangements in the two Pakistani cities. Now it is up to the players themselves. Some have confirmed they will travel, some that they will not, while others remain undecided. Watch this space for further updates.
ESPNcricinfo understands that Quetta will once again suffer an exodus, as a majority of their overseas players have either said no or remain undecided about making the trip. Their marquee player Kevin Pietersen has already made it clear that his tournament is over.
“It’s with a heavy heart that I have to leave Dubai and go back to London,” he said in a video message. “I wish i could travel and unfortunately family is very important and it’s a family decision and I hope you can respect it. But we have an opportunity to win this tournament, we are still in the competition, and please support the purple team. I will keep on supporting and am totally on top of everything we do over the next couple of days.”
Quetta were badly hit last year as well, having to make do with a last-minute draft of foreign players, and went on to lose the final to a full-strength Peshawar. Their coach Moin Khan isn’t pleased with the situation.
“I blame the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for this sad situation,” Moin said on Saturday. “I know the board will not like my comments. However, in future, only those overseas players should be included in the player draft who commit to also play in Pakistan, if required by their franchises.”
Overseas players who refuse to play in Pakistan, Moin said, cannot be seen as supportive of Pakistan cricket. “The franchises pay them well to play in the PSL. However, when they refuse to travel to Pakistan, it upsets the balance of the concerned franchises, and also deprives our people of seeing competitive cricket.”
There is good news for Karachi fans: the owner Salman Iqbal has confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that other than Eoin Morgan, their entire foreign contingent is ready for the trip.
Just as they did last year, Peshawar, led by Darren Sammy, are are all set to feature in the first Eliminator in Lahore with a full-strength squad.
The table toppers after the group stages have a fair bit of uncertainty surrounding who will travel. JP Duminy was originally denied an NOC by his home board but the batsman has decided to make a trip at his own risk by signing an indemnity form with CSA.
Luke Ronchi and Samit Patel are ready to travel while Sam Billings, who was recently appointed Kent captain, and Alex Hales are undecided and are likely to pull out.