PSL 2021: Several players return home, await travel permission
In a major move, the Pakistan Cricket Board has decided to send nearly 13 Pakistan Super League-bound players and officials to their respective homes, expecting "more delays" in travel formalities. The decision comes after personnel from Karachi and Lahore weren't allowed to take commercial flights via Doha to Abu Dhabi. Notably, the touring party had been serving a seven-day hotel quarantine.
"The decision has been made to allow the players and officials to spend time with their families," the PCB stated in a release. "As soon as the visas are processed, the players will undergo the mandatory PCR tests before boarding the first available commercial flight." PCB Director Babar Hamid said, "We regret the inconvenience that has been caused to some players and officials."
On what turned out to be a chaotic day, only five people of the original touring party were allowed to fly to the UAE due to strict restrictions. Later in the day, the PCB made arrangements for 12 players and officials to fly to Abu Dhabi, via Bahrain. All 17 individuals were flown as per the exemption acquired from the UAE government.
It is understood that many in the touring party, including former Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, were left behind at the airport. "As many as 11 players and officials on their way to the PSL, including the Quetta Gladiators captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, were not allowed to board commercial flights going from Lahore and Karachi to Abu Dhabi via Doha early morning on Sunday," ESPNcricinfo reported.
As per reports, a party of more than 25 individuals from both cities was supposed to travel to the UAE on a charter plane. However, the PCB opted for commercial flights, ignoring the COVID-19 protocols in place.
Previously, around 250 PSL-bound people had reached Abu Dhabi from Lahore and Karachi via charter flights. The remaining season of PSL 2021 is set to be played in the UAE after the PCB received a go-ahead from the Abu Dhabi government. A total of 20 matches are yet to be played before the Pakistan national side travel to England for a limited-overs series.