As Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) gear up to host the entire Pakistan Super League (PSL) at home, the country has been rocked by a deadly bomb blast. On Monday, a suicide bomb attack near a religious rally in the Pakistani city of Quetta has killed at least seven people and wounded 25 others, according to Al Jazeera. As of now, there is still no official confirmation on the number of casualties. Quetta is the home of PSL franchise Quetta Gladiators.
Some media reports from Pakistan are also claiming that more than a dozen people have lost their lives in the attack. According to Al Jazeera, Zia Langove, home minister of the province, said the deadly explosion took place close to the event organised by Ahle Sunnat Wal Jammat (ASWJ), a political party allegedly linked with a sectarian armed group.
The recent turn of events will be a huge blow for Pakistan who are desperately trying for the resumption of international cricket at home in full flow. Pakistan had to host their games at a neutral venue for nearly a decade in the wake of the attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009 in Lahore. And just when the situation was looking promising, the latest bomb blast might make things worse for Pakistan.
PCB was gearing up to host the entire PSL in Pakistan for the very first time. The entire first edition of the PSL in 2016 was staged in the United Arab Emirates before the PCB held the 2017 final at Lahore. In 2018, four matches were organized at Lahore and Karachi – with the rest in the UAE – while last year Karachi hosted eight matches.
But just a couple of days before the start of the competition, the blast might make things complex for PCB as the overseas players have always been hesitant of playing in Pakistan due to security reasons. The latest blast could just compel them to take some decisions which might hurt the PSL. A total of 36 overseas players are currently in Pakistan for the tournament.
Four cities to host PSL
Meanwhile, Quetta will not host a single PSL game this season. The entire six-team tournament will be held in four cities – Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan. The four cities will host all the 34 PSL games this season, starting on February 20. Lahore will host 14 matches, including the final on March 22.