Because of the police operation against a sit-in by a religious party at the interchange between Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Kashmir and Murree, both semi-final games at Rawalpindi stadium on Saturday have been postponed. Amid the crackdown by police against protesters, teams have been confined to their hotels with roads leading to the stadium blocked since early morning.
With the situation is getting worse with each passing hour, the PCB decided to postpone the games for at least one day.
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 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 were scheduled to compete with Faisalabad at noon, while FATA was set to face Lahore Blues at 4 pm. But the stadium management, broadcasting teams, and match officials failed to make the journey to the stadium and were advised to stay back until the situation improved.
“The semi-finals of the National T20 Cup have been postponed today due to the current situation in Rawalpindi,” Shakeel Khan, PCB’s media manager, said in a statement. “PCB is monitoring the situation and will continue to provide updates as the situation develops.”
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.