Preliminary discussions have been held about inviting India’s leading cricketers to participate in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) to be played in the United Arab Emirates in February, Pakistan Cricket Board official Najam Sethi has said.
Their presence in the tournament will be dependent on whether India agrees to play a bilateral series against Pakistan in the UAE in December, Sethi said. The participation of Indian cricketers such as MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli will make PSL the “biggest thing after IPL”, he added.
“We are going to try to persuade the Indians to play us in December,” he told the Abu Dhabi-based The National newspaper about the proposed bilateral series that India has not yet agreed to.
“If that happens, we will also be talking about a reciprocal arrangement – and I have had preliminary talks with people in Delhi on this – about Pakistani players being allowed to play in IPL and Indian players being allowed to play in PSL.”
There is no official ban on Pakistani players participating in the Indian Premier League though franchise owners unanimously decided not to bid for them in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
“If the series takes place in December, the ground will be fertile. If you don’t want our players to play in your league, OK, but at least let your players play in ours. It will be difficult for them to refuse that,” Sethi said.
“There will be pressure from the players. If Indian players do come in, then I think PSL will become the biggest thing in cricket after IPL.”
Sethi, the chairman of PCB’s executive committee, was in Dubai for discussions on the international series and the new Twenty20 league to be played in Dubai and Sharjah next year.
He was unsure whether the first version of the PSL – a five-franchise, 21-day event – will be able to attract the large audiences drawn by the IPL when it was temporarily based in the UAE last year. Nineteen of the 20 IPL matches played in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi were sold out.. Sethi said the PSL will be more profitable when it is staged in Pakistan, which he believes could happen within “two to three years”.
Leading international stars were asked to signal their interest to play in the PSL, with contracts worth $100,000 to $200,000 for foreign players and $25,000 to $150,000 for Pakistani players. The overseas players were asked to tick boxes as to whether they would be willing to play in Pakistan or the UAE.
Sethi said few players ticked the box signalling their willingness to play in Pakistan. “We are going to try our best,” he said. “Obviously if this was in Pakistan, everything would be sold out...I am convinced that sooner rather than later, PSL will come home to Pakistan.”
Foreign sides stopped touring Pakistan after the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked by terrorists in Lahore in March 2009. International cricket made a low-key return to the country with recent tours by the Zimbabwe men’s team and the Bangladesh women’s team.
“We are tackling terrorism. We have had two very successful tours. PSL will come home, but it may take two or three years,” Sethi said.