PSL 2021: Franchises wish to move tournament to UAE

After IPL 2021 was suspended by the BCCI amidst the second wave of covid in India on Tuesday, now the franchises at the Pakistan Super League (PSL) are requesting the PCB to move the remaining games of the rescheduled 2021 edition of the tournament out of Karachi to the UAE.

There has been an upward moving trend in cases from Pakistan. According to ESPNcricinfo, a letter from the franchises was sent to the board last week, and the board is believed to be considering the request and reviewing current plans. As a partial lockdown is already in place in the country.

Pakistan has had a seven-day average of approximately 4500 Covid-19 cases per day, with the cases being the highest they have been since the first wave last year. There are six teams in the tournament who, if things go as per plan, will assemble in Karachi by May 23 to begin observing their mandatory seven-day quarantine. From there they will fly to UAE and the matches are scheduled to resume on June 2.

Sixteen league-stage matches are slotted till June 14, with the playoffs taking place between June 16 and June 18, and the final on June 20. However, moving to UAE will have logistical and operational issues, though. Flights from Pakistan are operating at a severely reduced frequency. Second, the weather in UAE will be very hot in June.

The current edition of the PSL was previously suspended after just 14 games – played between February 20 and March 3, all in Karachi when a fresh covid surge had been reported among players and support staff. After a date for resumption was finalised, the franchises took part in a replacement draft to plug holes in their line-ups because a number of overseas players would not be able to take part in the games on the new dates.

After the initial suspension of the season, the PCB formed a two-member independent committee of infectious-diseases specialists, to look into how the outbreak occurred inside a bio-secure bubble. The changed situation with the pandemic, however, has made franchises nervous about the situation.

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