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Pakistan launching Premier League

Zaka Ashraf

LAHORE – West Indian cricketers such as Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith and Kieron Pollard have made a fortune in Twenty20 competitions in India, Bangladesh, England, South, Australia and Sri Lanka. Now they could get the chance to do the same in Pakistan if they are prepared to take the risk.

Pakistan will launch their Premier League T20 tournament in March as they try to lure international cricketers back to the country. Pakistan has not hosted international cricket since a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in March 2009.

However, last week, two T20 matches were played by an International World XI against the Pakistan All Stars team in Karachi. The response by the fans for those two matches was very encouraging with crowds in excess of 35 000.

Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Zaka Ashraf has said that the PCB has decided to go ahead with the Pakistan Premier League as they felt that this was the right time to get international cricket back to the country. However, some technical issues still plague the launch of this tournament.

The South African cricket board turned down the request of the PCB to tweak the tour dates for Pakistan’s tour to South Africa during January to March. The South Africa tour ends on March 24th and the PCB have planned to launch the Pakistan Premier League at around that same time.

The Pakistan T20 League also faces competition from the Indian T20 League, the most successful T20 competition in the world, which is slated to start from April 4th.

Ashraf added, “We need a two-week window to have our first event and we can manage that despite the South African tour”.

He went on to say that there would be five franchises with a total of 30 international players in the pipeline. The board has requested the Pakistan government for a five-year tax exemption for the league.

Meanwhile, Ashraf has ruled out plans to hire former Test captain Salim Malik as the next batting coach of the national team. Malik, who was banned for life in 2000 by a judicial inquiry probing his role in the match-fixing scandal, has applied for the post of Pakistan batting coach after stating that the Pakistan Supreme Court had cleared him in the case.

Ashraf pointed out that the board has decided to have qualified coaches for different jobs and that is why there is an eligibility criteria for candidates.

The candidates that fulfill the eligibility criteria will be selected, according to Ashraf. Salim Malik has not had any prior coaching experience.

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