The provincial government’s hopes of hosting matches of the upcoming season of the Pakistan Super League in Peshawar were dashed on Wednesday after the sport’s regulator deemed facilities in the city as unfit.
Initially, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had announced that it will host some matches of the popular cricket tournament in the western city, with the city and the province represented through the culturally named and hugely successful Peshawar Zalmi. However, with the main cricket stadium in the city, Arbab Niaz Stadium had been deemed as unfit to host a match after it failed to meet the standards listed by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
A massive project was undertaken by the provincial government to revamp the stadium. However, due to the slow pace of work on the mega project, the government struggled to convince PCB.
As an alternative, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan directed to launch a plan to convert the cricket stadium in Hayatabad into a facility which can host the matches. The government also allocated Rs500 million for the purpose and work started on a war footing. However, the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) affected the pace of projects.
The pace and quality of the project were reviewed by a high-powered team from the PCB last month. In light of the committee’s report, the PCB has now decided not to proceed with matches in either venue in Peshawar for the upcoming PSL season.
The board’s decision has also been formally communicated to the provincial government.
When contacted, PCB’s head of media Samiul Hassan said that very little time is left to complete preparations for the next PSL season, and with the stadiums still incomplete, matches cannot be staged in Peshawar.
Confirming that the PCB’s decision has been communicated to Peshawar, he explained that they have to inform the cricket managing bodies of the countries from where international players are coming about the venues and cities where matches can be played. Further, he said that they have to comply with ICC regulations apart from conducting security and other assessments.
Despite repeated attempts, K-P Sports Director General Asfandyar Khattak could not be contacted.
Meanwhile, the provincial government has decided to organise special games in the province later this week featuring 47 different fields in which some 700 specially-abled athletes are expected to participate.
This was disclosed during a high-level meeting of the K-P Sports and Youth Affairs department on Wednesday which was chaired by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan at the CM Secretariat in Peshawar.
K-P Sports Secretary Abid Majeed, Senior Member Board of Revenue, Principal Secretary to CM Shahab Ali Shah, Malakand division commissioner, Swat Deputy Commissioner Saqib Raza and other relevant high officials attended the meeting.
Briefing the meeting about developmental schemes in the sports sector, officials said that an indoor gymnasium will be established for special women athletes in all divisional headquarters for which a project has been approved under the annual development programme (ADP).
Under the scheme, all prerequisites for the establishment of an Rs99 million indoor gymnasium in Swat have been completed. It was further informed that a cricket stadium with allied facilities will be established in Kalam for which land is being acquired.
To promote sports activities, a sports complex will also be established in Swat. CM Mahmood directed the relevant authorities to expedite work on the projects to boost sports activities in the province. The timely completion of all schemes to this effect was imperative, he added.