The Pakistan Super League (PSL) has become cricket's latest casualty as the dreaded COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) continues to worsen across several countries. Having played several of the last leg league games at the National Stadium in Karachi, in a closed stadium, the PSL organisers took the call to postpone the final stages of the tournament (the two semi-finals which were scheduled to be held on March 17 and the final, on March 18), to be hosted in Lahore, with immediate effect.
The decision was taken by the PCB after reports emerged that one overseas player had shown symptoms of COVID-19 and he's set to undergo screening shortly. The said player has already left Pakistan for his home country and is said to have quarantined himself. The PCB had arranged for the exits of several overseas players following the outbreak and have now made arrangements to screen the players of the four remaining franchises, match officials, franchise representatives and broadcast crew to undergo precautionary tests.
Multan Sultans were supposed to play Peshawar Zalmi in the first semi-final while Karachi Kings were due to feature against Lahore Qalanders in the second game. Pakistan Cricket Board made the announcement that the tournament has been postponed for now and will be rescheduled at a later date.
Speaking about the postponement, PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan said: "This is absolutely the right thing to do after an overseas player, who will be tested in his country shortly, has shown symptoms of COVID-19. The PCB has also facilitated the process of carrying out immediate tests of all those who were involved with the HBL Pakistan Super League.
"This is an unprecedented situation, which is evolving with each passing day. Match Prediction The PCB has closely monitored the situation and had taken precautionary measures including consultation with relevant authorities and temperature screening of players, officials and media on match and non-match days.
"The PCB believes it has made the right decisions in the lead up to the postponement of the tournament that included consulting the team owners, holding the matches behind closed doors, allowing the players the option to withdraw from the tournament, rescheduling of the matches and reducing the number of event days.
"The PCB will use its reach and influence to play its part in all government's drives and initiatives to create awareness and dealing with this pandemic. The PCB hopes and prays that normalcy returns quickly to our society so that everyone can return to a healthy and routine lifestyle and we can bring back cricket to the fans."
The sporting world has taken several hits after COVID19 was declared as a 'pandemic' with several nations joining hands in cancelling events with immediate effect. Cricket hasn't been spared either with India postponing an ongoing bilateral series with South Africa and pushing the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) by 18 days, from March 29 to April 15. The domestic season of several countries, including Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, was brought to a premature end while England are left pondering about the start of their domestic season in May, 2020.