In developments that have given Karachi's chances of hosting the 2018 Pakistan Super League final a major fillip, ICC security consultant Reg Dickason has praised the "remarkably thorough" security arrangements for the final, saying what he had seen was "as good as he had seen in all my years". He did, however, caution that these remarks did not equate to an official approval, with the final report due to be submitted in seven days.
Dickason was in Karachi to inspect a security rehearsal for the Pakistan Super League final, scheduled to be held at the National Stadium in March. While some international cricket has returned to Pakistan over the past year, it has been exclusively confined to Lahore, with Karachi unable to win over the approval of independent security consultants. Last year's PSL final was also held at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, although several international players, including Kevin Pietersen, pulled out.
"We would like to thank the PCB for providing us with such a comprehensive, thorough and professional presentation," Dickason said. "It is very encouraging, and that will be reflected in the upcoming report. We have some things we need to discuss, however, it's all extremely positive. From what we've seen today, and what's been demonstrated, and the documentation and the level of commitment by all concerned parties has left me very, very satisfied."
Dickason stressed that the final decision did not rest with him, but said playing the final in Karachi "would be a very positive step. What we've seen today and in other parts of Pakistan is as good as I've seen in all my years."
It was reported that over 8000 security personnel from various law enforcement agencies partook in Sunday's rehearsal, which looked to replicate the arrangements for the teams that arrive in the city on the day of the final. With the match expected to be a fly-in, fly-out arrangement, the rehearsal was in two parts, covering the route from the airport to the hotel, and then on from the hotel to the stadium.
Karachi remains the venue of the last full match in Pakistan before the 2009 terror attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore. That game, the first Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, is the last completed Test match played in the country. Karachi is generally viewed as a more challenging city to provide a complete security plan for, with the nearest hotel at least 12 km away from the National Stadium, and blocking all traffic while the teams are en route to the stadium harder than it is in Lahore.
The PCB hope to play three PSL games in Pakistan this year, with two qualifiers scheduled to be held in Lahore before the final.