Set to turn over a new leaf

July 12, 2020

The capacity of Peshawar’s Arbab Niaz Stadium, which will host some of the next year’s PSL matches, is being more than doubled

The Arbab Niaz Stadium, Peshawar, is set to emerge as one of the most magnificent cricket venues of the country as construction work is in progress.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) apprised its Board of Governors at a recent meeting that it plans to add Peshawar as the fifth venue for matches of Pakistan Super League (PSL) sixth edition which will be held in February-March 2021.

It will be a huge boost for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which hosted the last One-day International way back on February 6, 2006, between Pakistan and India at Arbab Niaz Stadium.

Hosting PSL matches will enable Peshawar to host international cricket in coming years. Terror-related issues made Peshawar a no-go area for all sports teams for quite some time. However, now peace has been restored and the KP government’s step to convert a small venue into a huge one will bring a lot of good news for the province.

The province is also famous for tourism and the sector will flourish if PSL matches are held here and international cricket is restored in the city.

A well-placed source in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Sports Board, which is associated closely with the construction work on the venue, told ‘The News on Sunday’ that due to COVID-19 the pace of the work had been slowed down for three months but still there is every chance that the venue will be ready for cricket in December or January.

The source said that KP Chief Minister last week instructed the secretary CNW to expedite the pace of the work so that the stadium could be ready for PSL’s sixth edition.

It will be a plus point for Peshawar Zalmi as they will play in the PSL in front of their supporters for the first time since the T20 league began five years ago.

The work on the venue was started in 2018. It is the property of the KP government. The PCB is providing technical and advisory support to the KP government. It has been learnt that the PCB chairman Ehsan Mani, CEO Wasim Khan and former Director Academies Mudassar Nazar visited the venue.

In 2006, I remember, on the eve of the Pak-India one-day, a senior PCB official said that the area between the grills of the fans galleries and the boundary line is too short and it could injure a diving fielder. But it has been learnt that now that space has been expanded up to eight to 10 feet.

Previously the venue had a capacity of 14,000 spectators. It is being increased to 32,000.

“After Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, and National Stadium, Karach, it will be a huge venue with all requisite facilities and will meet international standards,” the source said.

A four-storey, 4-star hostel is being established on the western side which previously had squash courts and a mosque.

A prayer room and a well-facilitated gym are also being established. The hostel, which will also include a press conference hall, will accommodate two teams and their support staff.

The venue will also have a magnificent media centre.

The best thing about Arbab Niaz Stadium is that Pearl Continental Hotel is very closely located. On every gate there will be a lavatory system for both male and female spectators.

Two-storey spectators galleries are being prepared which will be completely covered. The shades, lights and some other minor items are being imported.

Chairs are being installed at the fans galleries. A huge amount of Rs1,377 million has been approved for the project which will bring a revolution in Peshawar cricket.

For practice purposes, pitches will be prepared at the area outside the main entrance of the venue where previously Sarhad Cricket Academy was operating.

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Set to turn over a new leaf