The PCB has decided to stage its upcoming PSL matches in Karachi behind closed doors at the National Stadium due to the coronavirus outbreak, following advice from the Sindh government.
The decision will come into effect from Friday, with Thursday’s match between Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars played in front of spectators.
Four matches are set to take place at the National Stadium from March 13 to March 17, with the final fixture a Qualifier match between the two sides that top the group-stage points table.
A statement from the PCB said: “The precautionary decision has been made to better protect the health and safety of the spectators, players, officials and media.”
Accredited commercial partners, media, immediate families of players, player support personnel and franchise owners will still be able to attend matches.
The PCB has also advised players to avoid shaking hands and fan interaction through autographs and selfies. Players will also not be required to shake hands with the opposition and will use a fist bump or verbal greeting instead.
“Health and safety is paramount and takes precedence over cricket,” said PCB chief executive Wasim Khan. “The PCB takes the health and safety of its players, spectators, officials, media, service providers and security personnel very seriously.
“Following the advisory from the Government of Sindh this evening, the PCB has taken this precautionary and preemptive measure which will result in matches taking place in front of empty stadium.
“We empathise with the Karachi fans who have been outstanding with their support in the earlier matches and during the hosting of eight HBLPSL matches last year. Once we received the advisory from the Government of Sindh, it was important for us to act quickly to ensure that the wellbeing of all concerned is better protected.
“The PCB has been regularly engaging with the teams and the players and have been updating them on matters. We have a duty of care to players and other stakeholders during this time; we would like to thank them for their continued trust and support.
Following the Karachi leg of fixtures, the tournament is set to round off in Lahore with two Eliminator matches and the final.
“With regards to the remaining fixtures in Lahore, we are already in contact with the Punjab Government and will take on board its advisory in relation to the Lahore matches,” added Khan.