By Sohail Ali
LAHORE, Oct 23 (APP): Taking into consideration the health and wellbeing of professional athletes and match officials due to the recent deterioration in the air quality caused by an early onset of intense air pollution in Lahore, which is expected to deepen next month, the Pakistan Cricket Board on Friday night decided to relocate scheduled matches at the cricket headquarters to Rawalpindi and Karachi.
This rescheduling due to weather conditions impacts the three T20Is between Pakistan and Zimbabwe, and the remaining four HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 fixtures, which will now be held in Rawalpindi and Karachi, respectively, on the dates announced earlier.
PCB chief executive Wasim Khan said here: “We have been keeping a close eye on air quality forecasts over the last two weeks.
Following the sudden deterioration in air quality and now further expected air pollution in November, we have made a swift decision to move the matches scheduled in Lahore.
“The early onset of hazardous pollution and subsequent poor air quality meant that the risk to keep matches in Lahore at this stage was too great. An early decision was made to ensure logistical challenges could be dealt with sooner rather than later. We cannot and will not compromise on the health and wellbeing of the players or officials.
“The decision to move matches from Lahore was not one that was taken lightly. For the sake of everyone involved and to ensure the remaining four matches of the HBL PSL and the three T20Is against Zimbabwe were completed without risk or interruption, it was important to move the matches.
“I am grateful to Zimbabwe Cricket, the franchise owners, broadcast partners and our valued commercial partners for their understanding in supporting our decision.
“We also want to thank the federal and provincial governments, as well as law enforcing agencies for their understanding and continued support.”
Meanwhile, the High Performance department has decided that players featuring in the first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy will be released following the third round match to spend the break at their homes.
Before returning to Karachi for the fourth round action, which begins on 20 November, the players will undergo Covid-19 tests at home and then another test upon arrival. Players with two negative tests will be allowed to integrate with their respective sides.
Director – High Performance, Nadeem Khan said : “We are mindful and careful of players’ mental health during the Covid-19 times and, as such, this is a good opportunity for them to return to their homes when the event takes an 11-day break, spend quality time with their family and friends, and rejoin on 18 November to complete the tournament.
“These are difficult times for everyone, but the players are showing tremendous courage and bearing with these tough restrictions. As stated previously, we are keeping a watching brief on the Covid-19 cases and if we believe we can make some relaxations without comprising on the integrity of the competition and health of the players, then we will ease some restrictions.”