Afghanistan could play in Pakistan domestic T20
Pakistan are hoping to invite Afghanistan to take part in their next domestic Twenty20 tournament, likely to be held in September-October this year.
The tournament, according to the PCB's domestic head Sultan Rana, will be the calendar's full version with all 11 regions (and 13 teams as Karachi and Lahore have two teams) involved, unlike the recently-concluded Super Eight T20 which involved just the top eight sides of the country. If it goes ahead as scheduled it will be the third domestic T20 tournament held in one calendar year, an indication of just how popular the format is.
"We are aiming to organise the next one in September and we'll have all the regions in it, as well as hopefully Afghanistan," Rana told ESPNcricinfo. In May Afghanistan became the first international side to tour Pakistan since the 2009 terror attacks on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore. They played a series of three 50-over games against the Pakistan 'A' side, losing all three.
As with the Super Eight, the tournament will be held away from the bigger centres of Karachi and Lahore, where all the previous T20s had been held, in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad instead. "The response we got from the crowds in Faisalabad was so good that we feel it will be good to again go to the smaller centres and host it there," Rana said. "We were missing a few crowd-pullers for the event and yet we still managed excellent crowds."
Evening games and the semi-finals and final at Iqbal Stadium were jam-packed through the week-long event, crowds coming in despite a nominal ticket charge for entry (in previous tournaments in Lahore and Karachi entry was free). "I don't think we could've asked for more from the event," Rana said. "We're most satisfied as far as the operations and execution of the event went and in this case, the local district government and security forces did really well."
The tournament also managed to pull in private sector sponsorship for each of the eight sides and Rana hopes that development can be built upon. "That was particularly pleasing for us," he said. "The market here is not as developed as it is in other cricket-playing countries but this was an indication that things can be improved. People are willing to take it on and I think the sponsors got great coverage out of it for themselves as well.
"We've received calls from people around the world about how much they enjoyed the tournament. Cricket is the only uniting force in this country and this format provides so much entertainment to fans here, it gives them something to cheer about, so we're really pleased with the results."