The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) today got the green signal from the Punjab government to hold the final of the second Pakistan Super League T20 tournament at the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore on March 5.
Najam Sethi, who heads the PSL, told the media after a long meeting at the Gaddafi stadium that it had been decided to hold the final as planned in Lahore despite adverse security situation.
"I think deciding to have the PSL final is a message from the Pakistani people to the world that they will not be cowed down by terrorism and they are peace loving people. The final is being held here because the people wanted it in Lahore," Sethi said.
The confirmation for the final came after days of uncertainty over whether the government would give clearance for the final because of the spate of terrorist attacks in the country including two incidents in Lahore in the last few days.
At the meeting which was chaired by the Chairman of the board, Shaharyar Khan and included the chief secretary of Punjab, IG Punjab police and other security officials it was announced that the Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has given the go ahead for the match.
It was decided that around 10,000 policemen, elite police commandoes and paramlitary rangers would provide security cover for the final in and around the Gaddafi stadium which is also the headquarters of the PCB.
The announcement comes despite concerns being expressed by some former PCB administrators and former players and critics over the huge risk involved in hosting the final at this time in Lahore.
"I think the time has come for us to give out a clear message and we hope that once this final is held peacefully it will allow us to bring international teams to Pakistan," Sethi added.
No top Test team has toured Pakistan since March, 2009 when militants attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore although the PCB managed to get Zimbabwe play a short limited-overs series in May, 2015.
The series went off peacefully with full houses expect for one reported incident where security agencies arrested a suspected militant on the outskirts of the stadium following an explosion.
Sethi said that security experts and some officials from the ICC and other cricket boards including Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh would be coming for the final to inspect the security situation themselves.
Asked about the participation of the foreign players in the final, Sethi said things would be finalised once the two teams were confirmed.
"I will be going back to Dubai now and once the finalists are confirmed I will again talk to the franchise owners and foreign players. We have also prepared a back up list of foreign players in case the overseas signings of the finalist teams refuse to come to Lahore," he said.
Ironically two of the franchises, which have qualified for the playoffs, Karachi Kings and Peshawar Zalmi are led by foreigners — Kumar Sangakkara and Darren Sammy. PTI