Pakistan fears Lahore attack may put foreign cricketers off PSL final

ISLAMABAD: Pakistanis were quick to voice fears that Monday’s explosion in Lahore could derail plans to hold the highly anticipated final of the Pakistan Super League there.

Pakistan’s international tournaments have been held abroad for years out of security fears, and the second year of the popular T20 tournament is ongoing in the UAE with the final on March 5 set for Lahore.

The PCB wanted to prove how safe Lahore is since a terrorist attack in 2009 against the Sri Lanka team put off all major international teams, and last week it guaranteed “foolproof security” for the PSL finalists.

But a bomber targeting police escorting a rally by pharmacists likely ruined those hopes.

“I wanted the whole PSL in Pakistan, not only just the final,” cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan said in Lahore on Tuesday. “But the problem is that when terrorism happens, it gets highlighted more, and foreigners get scared.”

Before the bombing, PSL chairman Najam Sethi was confident a large number of foreign players would appear in the final.

“Obviously, people will be more wary and scared they were already and now will be more,” Sethi said late on Monday.

“Now I will have to start all over again. I cannot say that we will be successful or not because [the players] have families, they will have their associations which will guide them.”

Sethi said he now wants to poll the Pakistan public, and let them decide whether they want to see the final in Lahore most likely without foreign players or Dubai again probably with overseas players.

Sethi said he still wanted Lahore to host the final, with or without foreign players.

“I want cricket lovers to tell me … what do they want? Whatever they want, we will do,” Sethi said. -AP