Pakistan is to deploy troops and bulletproof buses for today’s Pakistan Super League final, its biggest cricket match in years, after a wave of militant attacks prompted a host of foreign stars to pull out.
“Unprecedented” security involving thousands of troops and police are to guard the sold-out game in Lahore — the scene of a deadly 2009 assault on the Sri Lanka team that halted international cricket tours to Pakistan.
Fears of a fresh incident threaten to overshadow today’s final between the Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi, the culmination of a Twenty20 tournament that has otherwise been played in the United Arab Emirates.
Holding the final in Pakistan has drawn criticism from some quarters, after a series of militant attacks last month left 130 people dead, including a Lahore suicide blast that killed 14.
“God forbid if any mishap happens we can say goodbye to int cricket in Pak for the next decade,” tweeted Pakistan great Imran Khan.
England’s Kevin Pietersen, Luke Wright and Tymal Mills have all withdrawn, along with their Quetta teammates Rilee Rossouw of South Africa and New Zealand’s Nathan McCullum.
“I have a young family ... a game of cricket is just not worth the risk,” tweeted Wright, adding that “all overseas players” had a clause in their contract exempting them from the final.
Peshawar’s owners have claimed all five of their foreign stars — Darren Sammy and Marlon Samnuels from the West Indies, and England’s Chris Jordan, Samit Patel and Dawid Malan were ready to go to Lahore, although the players themselves had not confirmed this.
Both teams will be able to pick from a specially created pool of 12 foreign players willing to participate, Cricinfo reported on Friday.
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