In Focus, International, National

Nepal may host Pak home series

KARACHI – Nepal has the potential to become the most preferred off shore venue for Pakistan in near future provided that country could create an international stadium to host world class events, said a former Pakistani cricket official who had been to the Himalayan country in connection with cricket duties in the recent past.

Talking to TheNation here Tuesday former manager of MCB sports department M Iqbal who has been credited with finding cricketers like Qasim Omer, Ejaz Faqih and many others said that Nepal certainly had the potential to be off shore venue to host Pakistan home series mostly the shorter version of sport but said lack of a big international cricket stadium was major hurdle in that direction.

That country had every things related to the game except a big stadium to organise international matches for top level teams. The country could guarantee huge crowds and cheap hospitality as compared to the Gulf region, England or Sri Lanka where the PCB had to spend millions of dollar to host home matches.

There is huge following of the game in Nepal which in recent years has become an associate member of the ICC. Teams from India, Sri Lanka Pakistan and Bangladesh had travelled to Nepal to play matches in the past. Even these low level competitions had attracted huge crowds. M Iqbal was the first Pakistani cricket official to take an MCB team to Nepal. He said that he believed Nepal could be far better off shore venue than Gulf region. Cricket was as seriously followed in Nepal as any other country of the subcontinent.

The sports had huge following and if Pakistan play there the venues would be jam-packed unlike in Sharjah or Abu Dhabi or Dubai Sports City where no doubt the facilities were top class but there were just a few hundred people to watch Tests, ODIs or even T20.

Moreover financially Nepal would be cheapest amongst all the off shore venue where Pakistan had so far held its home matches. Gulf region is an extremely expensive off shore venue where organizing home series was not profitable. If Nepal could host an off shore Pakistan event it would be a roaring success both in terms of crowd and profits for the PCB.

The Nepalese cricket did not have the kind of money needed to construct an international class stadium. Here a Pakistani entrepreneur may make investment and could construct the stadium if given the guarantee that Pakistan would play its ODI’s and T20s in that country as long as security situation normalizes and international cricket return to Pakistan. Once that guarantee was made one single or a conglomerate of entrepreneurs could look into investing in such an exciting venture. He said if Pakistan and India ODI or T20 matches were played there controlling the crowd would be problem. Indians would come in a large numbers because it is easier to travel and also the country was far less expensive as compared to even New Delhi or Mumbai.

One thing was certain Nepal could certainly promise a huge crowds if Pakistan team went there to play matches against its opponents who could not come to Pakistan for security reasons.