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Punjab govt prohibits other sporting events to ensure watertight security for PSL final

LAHORE: In order to ensure foolproof security arrangements for the high-profile final of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Lahore on March 5, the Punjab government has advised the Pakistan Cricket Board and Sports Board Punjab not to hold any other sporting event in the province during Feb 25-March 9, Dawn has learnt.

As a result, the Punjab Games, which were to be organised by the Punjab Olympic Association during the last week of February, in the wake of Punjab government’s advice, have now been postponed till March 22.
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However, the government instructions can create problems for the PCB which is scheduled to hold its Grade-II events of Quaid-i-Azam Trophy for the regions and Patron’s Trophy for the departmental teams from March 1 and March 4, respectively, across the country, including Punjab, well-informed sources have told Dawn.
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The security agencies in following the government advice are not showing any relaxation whatsoever, as the officials concerned want to take every possible step to make sure the PSL final in Lahore takes place without any untoward incident.

A trouble-free PSL decider at the Gaddafi Stadium on March 5, they reckon, would be mighty important in convincing foreign sports teams to again start touring Pakistan, which has seen almost no international sports action since the dastardly terror attack on Sri Lankan cricket squad at Lahore in March 2009.

On its part, the PCB confirmed earlier this month the shifting of PSL final from Dubai to Lahore — in an attempt to convince other cricket boards about the improving security situation in Pakistan so that world’s top cricketing teams resume their visit to the country.

As it is likely that some foreign players will also be part of the teams competing in the PSL final and a huge crowd is most likely to throng the Gaddafi Stadium, the Punjab government is not taking any chances in making watertight security arrangements.

Interestingly, the PSL authorities in order to thwart even a minor security issues due to over-crowdedness have also suggested significant increase in ticket prices for some of the main portions of the Gaddafi Stadium, including Imran Khan enclosure and Fazal Mahmood enclosure, for the March 5 finale. Tickets for these enclosures may well be sold for Rs10,000 or more, just to control the extraordinary rush of fans. Even the tickets of general enclosures having no chairs may not be sold for less than Rs500.

Dawn has also learnt that the PSL is minutely looking into making very precise travelling plans for PSL finalist teams. The authorities concerned, in this regard, are considering two options.

In the first option, both the teams could either arrive in Lahore in the wee hours of March 5, the day of the final, to play the match in the night and return to Dubai the same night, or they could travel for the decider on March 4.

According to sources, the stay of foreign players in Lahore will not be more than 36 hours.

Though such a short stay of foreign players in Pakistan for a major cricketing final may not be enough to convince foreign national cricket teams to come here to visit and play a full series in the country, it could help the PCB ensure other cricket boards about improved security situation in Pakistan.

The sources said that the strict orders for not holding any sports events in Punjab have been issued to ensure that no untoward incident takes place in any of the cities in Punjab which could in any way jeopardise the PSL final.

Courtesy : Dawn News

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