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Sohail Ali

LAHORE, Dec 02 (APP):Despite the Covid-19 pandemic that has either postponed or truncated cricket seasons across the cricket world, the Pakistan Cricket Board has successfully delivered 148 matches in the 2020-21 season before the start of the sixth round matches of the first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, which began today , Wednesday in Karachi.

By the time the three-day Quaid-e-Azam Trophy concludes on 12 December and the first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy finishes on 5 January 2021, the PCB remains confident it would have organised 188 matches from 10 completed tournaments in the 2020-21 season, which commenced on 30 September with the First XI National T20 Cup.

These tournaments include the first and second XIs National T20 Cup, National U19 One-Day and Three-Day Tournaments, six international matches against Zimbabwe, remaining four HBL PSL 2020 fixtures, the National Triangular T20 Women’s Cricket Championship, the ongoing three-day and four-day Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, and the upcoming Second XI Pakistan Cup One-Day Tournament.

During the nine tournaments/series to date, as many as 2,830 Covid-19 tests have been conducted on players, players support personnel and match officials as the PCB has strictly followed and implemented its strict protocols, which were designed in-house, and have been put together for the health and safety of all participants.

Until curtains fall on the 2020-21 season in late March, the PCB is optimistic of staging another 112 matches from the first and second XIs Pakistan Cup One-Day Tournament, international matches against South Africa and the HBL Pakistan Super League 2021.
This means to date, the PCB has delivered nearly 58 per cent of the planned 260 matches in circumstances that can be termed far from normal.

The events and series are separate to cricket activities in the National High Performance Centre, where star coaches have been spending a lot of time preparing strategies and pathways for talented cricketers as well as coaches and match officials.

PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan said here on Wednesday : “This data is extremely satisfying for the Pakistan Cricket Board as it illustrates two simple facts: firstly, we have delivered cricket events and activities uninterruptedly despite the pandemic while ensuring health and safety of all participants, and, secondly, we have brought the fans and followers closer to action by live broadcast on TV and YouTube streaming.

“This reflects our resolve, commitment and promise to the Pakistan cricket fans that we will not only provide entertainment through quality cricket but will continue to invest in our domestic cricket. I am glad that the response to date has been phenomenal.

“The 2020-21 season has also brought the entire PCB together in the planning and delivery of a crowded and busy season in which events have overlapped and multiple teams have been in action in one city. Due to the professional event planning and delivery, we remain on track of completing a full season of domestic and international cricket during these unprecedented times.”

PCB Director – High Performance Nadeem Khan said: “Cricket activities are the lifeline for the PCB and professional cricketers, and I am pleased we have been able to keep the players busy in competitive cricket by keeping the stadia alive and active.

“The standard of cricket has been pretty good and through live broadcast and streaming, we have seen a number of talented cricketers announce their arrival. This season, played in difficult circumstances, has clearly benefited these talented cricketers, which, in turn, will assist Pakistan cricket moving forward as the selectors and team managements will be able to identify the talent that can strengthen their squads.

“This has not been an easy period for the entire world. But, from our medical team to the commercial team to the logistics team to the security team, everyone has contributed significantly to ensure cricket remains unaffected.”