The Pakistan Super League (PSL), on Tuesday, became the latest cricket event to be called off due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PSL) had previously tweaked the original schedule of the competition in the wake of the outbreak. The cricket board had cut short the tournament by four days and replaced the playoffs with semifinals.
But the PCB had to call-off the tournament after cases of coronavirus patients spiked. As on Tuesday, there were 184 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pakistan with two in Punjab (of which Lahore is a part). The Punjab province is under Section 144, a law that bans all private and public sports activity as well as other public gatherings.
Both the semifinals were set to take place on Tuesday before the PCB announced that the games will be rescheduled. Multan Sultans were set to take on Peshawar Zalmi in the first semifinal while Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars were set to lock horns in the second semifinal. The winners would have played the final today.
In a statement, PCB chief executive Wasim Khan stated that the tournament was called off after an overseas player was suspected of contracting COVID-19. Later reports suggested that England star Alex Hales, who was playing for Karachi Kings, was the one who showed the symptoms. But the batsman later refused the rumours and confirmed that he has not been tested positive yet.
“One overseas player has been potentially suspected (of having contracted COVID-19). However, we cannot reveal the identity of that player. But it’s true that there is one suspected case and the player has left Pakistan already,” Wasim Khan said.
Ravi Bopara donned the Multan Sultans jersey in PSL 2020
With coronavirus taking toll on sporting events all across the world, how competition winners should be settled upon has been up for debate. On Tuesday, Cricket Australia announced New South Wales as the Sheffield Shield winners after cancelling the final round of the tournament. New South Wales had a 12-point lead in the table during the regular season.
And Ravi Bopara too had a suggestion for PCB. The England all-rounder, who was playing for Multan Sultans, took to Twitter to reveal an interesting and hilarious solution. Bopara said that Multan Sultans should be announced as the winners because of being the ‘oldest average team’ in the tournament.
“As the elderly are more vulnerable to the Coronavirus it’s only fair the oldest average age team in the @thePSLt20 take the trophy. #PSL5 @MultanSultans,” joked Ravi Bopara.
As the elderly are more vulnerable to the Coronavirus it’s only fair the oldest average age team in the @thePSLt20 take the trophy. #PSL5 @MultanSultans
— Ravi Bopara (@ravibopara) March 17, 2020
Multan Sultans finished the league stage at the top of the table by registering six wins from two games. However, they had suffered a crushing 9-wicket defeat in their last league game. The Multan-based franchise failed to defend 187 against Lahore Qalandars.