Pakistan officials fear Lahore bombing could put foreign cricketers off PSL final

Police and rescue workers work at the scene of a blast in Lahore, Pakistan.
REUTERS

Police and rescue workers work at the scene of a blast in Lahore, Pakistan.

Pakistan cricket fans fear foreign players will avoid competing in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final in Lahore after a suicide bomber killed 13 people there on Monday (Tuesday NZ Time).

The five-team PSL began last week in the United Arab Emirates, and the final on March 5 is set for Lahore.

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

A group of men watch a Pakistan Super League (PSL) cricket match between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi on TV sets ...
FAISAL MAHMOOD/REUTERS

A group of men watch a Pakistan Super League (PSL) cricket match between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi on TV sets at a CD shop in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

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

READ MORE: McCullum, Elliott out for ducks in horror PSL loss

 

The PSL includes former Black Caps Brendon McCullum, Grant Elliott and James Franklin with the Lahore Qalandars and Nathan McCullum with the Quetta Gladiators.

"I wanted the whole PSL in Pakistan, not only just the final," cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan said in Lahore on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT).

"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.

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"Obviously, people will be more wary and scared - they were already and now will be more," Sethi said late 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.

Last month, the Federation of International Cricketers' Association warned foreign players not to travel to Pakistan.

 - AP

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