Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has announced that they have received an official go-ahead from the government to allow 20-percent crowds in the upcoming Pakistan Super League (PSL) edition.
PSL 2021 will be played from February 20 to March 22 and all matches are to be held in Karachi and Lahore. The decision means that the National Stadium at Karachi will host 7,500 spectators per match day and 5,000 spectators will be allowed access in Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium.
It is also understood that the PCB and Pakistan's National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) will work in liaison during the tournament. They will monitor the situation together before a decision is made to increase crowd attendance for the playoffs and the PSL final.
PCB's chairman, Ehsan Mani, expressed his delight after a successful meeting with NCOC over PSL 2021. He termed it as a 'step in the right direction' for Pakistan Cricket given most tournaments around the world are being organized behind closed doors:
“Fans are the PCB’s biggest asset and we are delighted that no matter a small number, but some will be able to have access to the matches. Their presence will add flavour and excitement to one of the biggest and most challenging leagues in the cricket calendar. We understand not everyone will get an opportunity to watch the matches due to the limited number of seats, but these are baby-steps and considering that most of the sport events are being played in empty stadiums, this is a positive achievement and step in the right direction."
Ehsan Mani is also hopeful that if PCB can maintain strict protocols during the PSL, they can push their case for larger crowd attendances during Pakistan's international home season as well as the domestic tournaments in 2021-22.
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“I am optimistic that if we can maintain strict protocols during the HBL PSL 2021 matches we will have a strong case for more fans in the 2021-22 season in which we have to host high-profile international teams such as New Zealand, England and the West Indies as well as quality domestic events, including the National T20 Cup, Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and the Pakistan Cup,” Mani added.
PCB's efforts have been lauded for successfully staging all three of its major domestic tournaments this season - National T20 Cup, first-class tournament Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, and the recently-concluded Pakistan Cup. The home series against South Africa, which comprises of two Tests and three T20Is, is also currently underway.