The semi-finals and final of the National T20 Cup have been rescheduled for November 29 and 30 after they were postponed by the PCB due to religious unrest in the country. The venue for the three games has not changed, with Rawalpindi playing host, just like it has for the rest of the tournament. The four remaining teams - Lahore Whites, who play Faisalabad, and FATA, who face Lahore Blues - are already in Islamabad, Rawalpindi's sister city.
The tournament had been set to conclude in the weekend, but an unrest that began when police tried to disperse a sit-in by a religious gathering at an interchange in Rawalpindi forced the PCB to postpone the event. With protests turning violent and escalating throughout the country, Islamabad had been in a state of effective lockdown over the weekend, with all roads leading to Karachi and Lahore closed off. Teams had found themselves confined to their hotels, and roads leading to the Rawalpindi stadium had also been blocked. Private news channels were taken off air for most of Saturday and Sunday, while access to social media sites Facebook, Twitter and YouTube was also suspended. All educational institutions in Lahore, which hosted the recent World XI series, as well as the third T20I against Sri Lanka, were closed on Monday, and will remain shut on Tuesday.
But the situation has been defused for the most part, with life returning to some semblance of normality in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. That enables the postponed games in the National T20 Cup to be held earlier than what may have been expected on Monda or Tuesday. The decision to play these matches on Wednesday and Thursday, as opposed to the weekend, may be down to a religious holiday throughout Pakistan on Friday, with the PCB keen to avoid further hindrances to their premier domestic T20 tournament.
The National T20 Cup faced several hindrances this year. Earlier, it had clashed with the ICC World XI's trip. The rescheduled dates clashed with the Bangladesh Premier League and the now-postponed T20 Global League in South Africa. Even then, smog in Faisalabad and Multan forced a relocation 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 franchises and counties after undergoing fitness tests.
The tournament will also mark the end of Saeed Ajmal's career, who announced his retirement from all forms of cricket.