Lahore: Four cricketers were issued visas to travel to United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the remaining matches of Pakistan Super League (PSL) season six on Monday.
As per details, Umar Amin, Hammad Azam, Khalid Usman and Asif Afridi received their visas and arrangements are being made to depart them to Abu Dhabi on the first available flight. However, Imran Randhawa’s visa has not been issued yet.
As soon as the visa is issued, the departure of Imran Randha to Abu Dhabi will also be finalized.
It must be noted that a player has to undergo mandatory seven-day quarantine after arriving UAE.
PSL 6 will resume from June 9 at Sheikh Zayed International Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
On the day of double-headers, the first match will begin at 6pm (PST) whereas the second fixture will begin at 9 pm according to Pakistan’s Standard time.
PSL management was considering the option of playing the entire tournament in Karachi instead of moving for the final leg to Lahore as scheduled, from March 10, it had decided to postpone the whole event.
PSL6 has seen instances gradually build before the dramatic events of eventually forced the tournament to be suspended, with less than half of its 34 games completed.
Here is a timeline of how events came to a head.
One night before the opening match, Peshawar Zalmi coach Daren Sammy and captain Wahab Riaz breached the bio-secure bubble in place for all teams in Karachi hotel by meeting with their franchise owner Javed Afridi, who was not part of the bubble. The pair was told to go into a three-day quarantine and must return two negative tests before they can return to the team.
After Zalmi file an appeal with the PSL's event committee for a concession, Sammy and Wahab were allowed to reintegrate with the squad, despite not having served the three-day quarantine period. The pair returned two negative tests within 48 hours. The results of the second test arrived in the morning, delaying Peshawar's departure for the stadium. Riaz later lead his side to a loss against Qalandars, with Sammy in the dugout.
The game between Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators was first delayed and then postponed to the following day after Fawad Ahmed returns a positive test.
All players and officials underwent PCR tests. The rescheduled game moved ahead and the PCB said it will not conduct testing every fourth day, instead of weekly as previously planned.
Two more players - including Tom Banton - and one support-staff member returned positive tests. The PCB held a meeting with franchises to reassure them and reiterates its message that players must stick to the protocols. The board said it was happy that their bubble protocols are secure, although it does acknowledge "life in a bubble is very difficult and managing it is also very tough. This is happening in other different sports in the world - NFL, NHL, Formula 1 or Australian Open - breaches do happen but that doesn't mean the bubble is weak or there are loopholes."
Franchise owners and the league's management held a meeting to chart a way forward for the league after the positive tests. One option discussed was to forego the Lahore leg and play out the entire season in Karachi. At least two franchises raised strong objections to that idea. The PCB also announced that it will offer vaccines to all players and officials.
Three more players tested positive, and news came that Australian Dan Christian is leaving the tournament due to the COVID-19 cases. Soon after, the PCB said it is postponing the league with immediate effect. The board said the new cases were not from any of the teams who played in Wednesday's double-header matches, which ruled out players from Karachi Kings, Peshawar Zalmi, Multan Sultans or Quetta Gladiators.
Pakistan Super League 6, which was suspended in the wake of a spate of Covid-19 cases among players and support staff, will resume once again in June. The PCB and the various franchises got together for a (virtual) meeting that is understood to have taken an hour long and in the end all parties were happy to restart the season in Karachi.