Karachi: Pakistan cricket authorities insisted Monday that preparations were well on course for a Twenty20 league with international stars in March next year. The Pakistan Premier League - devised on the pattern of leagues in India, Australia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka - is seen as a key step towards reviving international cricket in the country, suspended since a deadly militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009.
The incident prompted international teams to shun tours to Pakistan on security fears, forcing Pakistan to play their home series at neutral venues in the United Arab Emirates, England and New Zealand. But the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) says its efforts will bear fruit, particularly after two exhibition Twenty20 matches involving an international World XI were held in Karachi this month without any problems.
PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf said work on the league was progressing well. "The response so far is very good," Ashraf told AFP. "The issue of number of teams and players has still to be decided but it's in the planning stage."
Ashraf said plans would not be affected by the refusal of Cricket South Africa (CSA) to push forward Pakistan's series in their country to accommodate the league. Nor would the hectic international schedule. "We have a window after our team's tour to South Africa in March next year which can be utilised for the league," said Ashraf.
"We have good relations with CSA and shall continue to be so."