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If there will be a sixth team in PSL, it will be Sialkot, says PSL head

Najam Sethi
Pakistan’s cricket chief Najam Sethi speaks with media representatives. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

The Chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the head of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) Najam Sethi recently revealed that a sixth team is in line to be added to PSL in the third edition. In a conversation with The Express Tribune, Sethi spoke at length about PSL, the prospect of getting cricket back in Pakistan and much more. In a very solid tone, the PSL head quoted that Sialkot is the deserving team to be in the PSL.

Currently, there are 5 teams in the league. A sixth team cannot be added at the moment for the upcoming season since the franchise owners have disagreed to it. Reasoning out, Najam Sethi said, “Now, two years down the line, we tried to persuade the franchises to add a sixth team and they said no because they thought their losses would go up — the total revenue will then have to be shared among six teams. Although we would have gotten the sixth franchise’s money, we would have been rich and happy, but we had to abide by the terms. But next year, there will be a sixth team in the third edition of the PSL.”

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Speaking further, he quoted, “Well, ladies and gentlemen, if you say forget about Dubai and remain in Pakistan and get the next deserving franchise then it will have to be Sialkot. Full stop, it is as simple as that.” The PCB and the organising committee of the T20 league are planning to hold the finals of the coveted league in Lahore. They believe that this might pave way for international cricket to return to Pakistan.

Sethi revealed that two venues are being kept ready for the finals. In case the final is not played at Lahore due to security reasons, it will be shifted back to Dubai. “We have prepared contingency plans. We would like the final to be in Lahore, but if the security isn’t warranted, things are happening which scare people off, then we will have it in Dubai. But we are not going to give up. We are going to try to have two venues ready — Lahore and Dubai. And if security is OK in Lahore, we will fly people out and we’ll get it done and if it is not, then we will have it in Dubai,” he quoted.

In the recent times, there have been news about an international tour being round the corner in Pakistan. While the rumours have suggested that it could be West Indies or Sri Lanka touring Pakistan in mid-2017, the PSL chief declined to take any names.

He, however, assured that there are talks going on with a ‘top’ foreign board. “As we speak, we have submitted a security plan to a top foreign board. And we trying to persuade them to come and play some matches as soon as PSL is over. And these are discussions that are in the pipeline. I don’t want to reveal more. But, if that happens, then you will see that the PSL would have created a window of opportunity for the return of cricket back to Pakistan,” he conceded.

Shahid Afridi has been one of the greatest cricketers to have played for Pakistan. There have been speculations about him getting a farewell match. The PCB is planning on the same lines and affirmed that it will happen sometime soon.

“Shahid Afridi is a great star and he will always be star. You know it was wrong for people to suggest that he should be given a farewell match because he is a great star. That is not a practice followed anywhere in the world. However, we want to give him a great send-off. And you please give us some time to organise it. I have asked Shahid to come and see so we can plan a great send off,” Sethi concluded.

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