The PCB has decided to postpone the semi-finals and final of the National T20 Cup because of the "prevailing situation" of religious unrest in Pakistan, saying new dates would be announced later. The next round of the Quaid-e-Azam trophy has also been called off.
The prevailing situation, as the board called it, began on Saturday, when police attempted to disperse a sit-in by a religious group at an interchange in Rawalpindi. They were unsuccessful in doing so, and the protests spread throughout the country. Educational institutions were closed on Monday and Tuesday in Lahore, where the recent T20Is against Sri Lanka and an ICC-sanctioned World XI took place. Access to social media sites Facebook, Twitter and YouTube was suspended across the country.
"Due to the prevailing situation, the PCB management has decided to postpone the semi-finals and final of the National T20 Cup and Super 8 rounds of the Quaid-e-Azam trophy for now," PCB's media manager Shakeel Khan said. "The management will announce new dates later."
The semifinals were originally scheduled to be held on November 26, but they were called off as the protests began to widen and escalate. Teams had found themselves confined to their hotels, and roads leading to the Rawalpindi stadium had been blocked.
The stadium is situated in a central location in Rawalpindi, Islamabad's twin city, and the impact of the police operation disrupted life in both cities. As many as 8500 elite police and paramilitary troops in riot gear were taking part in the operation on Saturday by encircling the area. Protesters resisted fiercely, resulting in major disruptions, and all roads leading from Islamabad to Lahore and Karachi were closed off.
Lahore Whites are scheduled to compete with Faisalabad in the first semifinal, while FATA face Lahore Blues in the other clash.
The National T20 Cup has faced several hindrances this year. Earlier, it had clashed with the ICC World XI's trip. When it was rescheduled, its dates clashed with the Bangladesh Premier League and the now-postponed Global T20 League in South Africa. Even then, smog in Faisalabad and Multan meant it had to eventually be relocated to Rawalpindi once and for all.
The scheduling of the National T20 Cup created uncertainty on other fronts as well. In August, the board revoked the No-Objection Certificates of 13 players participating in the Caribbean Premier League and the English domestic season, asking them to return home and fulfill national and domestic commitments. However, a few days later, PCB chairman Najam Sethi said the National T20 Cup had been postponed and the players could return to their franchise sides and counties after undergoing fitness tests.