President's Trophy matches moved out of Punjab
Two matches of the last round of the President's Trophy have been shifted out of Punjab, to Islamabad and Mirpur, following differences between the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and Punjab Government.
Faisalabad's Iqbal Stadium was scheduled to host the match between State Bank of Pakistan and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited while Pakistan International Airlines and Water and Power Development Authority were set to play at Jinnah Stadium in Sialkot.
The trouble started after the government's city-district administration disrupted the matches of the ongoing PCB Under-19 inter district/department tournament in Gujranwala and Sialkot. A match between Sialkot and Karachi Blue was interrupted on November 11 when a helicopter carrying top Punjab government officials landed at the Gujranwala stadium, forcing the match to be abandoned. An attempt was made to host another match in Gujranwala, between Sialkot and Gujranwala, but the city-district administration refused to give permission. The PCB relocated it to Sialkot but the match was stopped and the city-district administration evacuated the stadium for an undisclosed reason.
"There is no clash between the PCB and the Punjab Government," a PCB spokesman told ESPNcricinfo. "We are a sports body and want the games to go on and to avoid any further disruption we have decided to move our matches from the Punjab province to other parts of the country."
To avoid further disruptions, the President's Trophy matches have been moved to the National Stadium in Islamabad and Quaid-e-Azam stadium in Mirpur. "In the meantime, we are in negotiations with the Government to sort out any the issues they think need to be sorted," the spokesman said. "We want the smooth functioning of our tournament and apart from the President's Trophy matches the Under-19 match (Peshawar v Sialkot) has also been relocated to Peshawar."
The PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf said the board can't afford any disruptions at the moment. "We understand that the grounds are the property of the Punjab Government and it's up to them if they will let us play but they should show good spirit and work with a big heart," Ashraf told reporters in Lahore. "But if they carry on with such a condescending attitude we are left with no other choice but to take the matches away from the province."
The row had started in March this year when the PCB refused to grant permission to the Punjab government for holding a non-sports function at the Rawalpindi Stadium. Later the PCB, headquartered in Lahore (the capital of Punjab), wrote a letter to the chief secretary of the Punjab Government on April 16 this year regarding security arrangements and plans but the government said it was unaware of such a request. The PCB then blamed the Punjab Government for lack of coordination, which affected Bangladesh's proposed visit in April, over security and safety concerns.
Pakistan and Bangladesh were due to play one ODI and one Twenty20 at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, on April 29 and 30 this year but the tour was pulled back over a writ petition filed in the Dhaka High Court after the tour appeared to be hit by logistic issues.
The PCB, the country's richest sports body, owns no stadiums of its own. Currently, all stadiums around the country are on lease with MoUs with the city-district governments.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent