New ground for ICC tournaments May 26, 2006

Race against time for Islamabad stadium

Khalid Hussain



Rawalpindi has a twin city, its stadium will soon have a twin ground © AFP

Pakistan have begun a race against time to set up a world-class cricket stadium in Islamabad by 2008, when the country is due to host the ICC Champions Trophy for the first time.

A PCB official told `The News' that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) would soon be signed with the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for the allocation of land to build the proposed stadium.

"We have a couple of major tournaments to host in the coming years and would like to add to the existing cricket facilities," said Saleem Altaf, Director of Cricket Operations, PCB.

Pakistan are due to stage the biennial Champions Trophy in 2008 and will be the co-hosts for the 2011 World Cup with India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Altaf conceded it will be a race against time if Pakistan want to have the facility in Islamabad ready ahead of the Champions Trophy. "But it is a possibility," he said, adding the PCB would make efforts to hasten the process.

The PCB is presently waiting for a physical possession of a piece of land which it is to get from the CDA. "Once we get the physical possession then the actual work can begin," he said.

Altaf said the PCB would start issuing tenders for the construction of the stadium once it gets possession of the land in Islamabad. "We hope if everything goes according to the schedule, the stadium would be ready by the end of next year."

Pakistan might extract some aspects from the design of a cricket stadium being built in the Dubai Sports City while finalising its own blueprint for the proposed stadium in Islamabad. The stadium in Dubai, once completed, is expected to be counted among the best cricket facilities in the world.

Islamabad does not have a cricket stadium of international standard. Test and ODIs are, however, regularly played in its twin city Rawalpindi. But the Rawalpindi stadium is not controlled by the PCB, as it has to hire the facility from the local authorities.

The PCB, in fact, has the administrative control of just two Test venues -- the Gaddafi Stadium (Lahore) and the National Stadium (Karachi).

Cricinfo adds:The PCB, as part of their preparations, are planning to bring the administration of stadiums in Faisalabad, Multan and Rawalpindi - all venues for 2011 - under their control. In addition, as reported recently, the Niaz Stadium in Hyderabad - once an venue of Tests and ODIs - is also coming under the supervision of the PCB.

At a recent press conference. Shaharyar Khan, chairman PCB, said, "Our preparations for the World Cup have to begin in earnest from now and one of the first things we must accomplish is gaining control of stadiums in Faisalabad, Multan and Rawalpindi. We need to bring these stadiums up to international standards and at the moment they aren't. But I will impress upon the government that these stadiums need to be in our control for them to be upgraded to the requisite standard."