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Home Sports Arbab Niaz Cricket Stadium's International Ambitions Dampened by Unfinished Renovation

Arbab Niaz Cricket Stadium's International Ambitions Dampened by Unfinished Renovation

The COVID-19 pandemic and funding challenges, including delayed disbursement to contractors, have contributed to the project's slow pace.

by Aftab Mohmand - 20 Feb, 2024 1784
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The Arbab Niaz Cricket Stadium in Peshawar, the sole international-standard cricket venue, faced disappointment as it couldn't host Pakistan Cricket League matches this year. This setback marked a missed opportunity for the stadium, which also missed out on the ninth edition of the Pakistan Cricket League initiated in 2015.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, initiated the stadium's expansion project in 2018, allocating funds for a comprehensive transformation. Envisaged as a Dubai-style stadium, the plan included facilities like a cafeteria, gymnasium, swimming pool, LCD lights for day matches, indoor academy, double stands, and an increased spectator capacity from 20,000 to 45,000.

However, despite progress on aspects like the pitch, adjacent hostel construction, and a completed pavilion, major components such as the swimming pool, indoor academy, gymnasium, and lights remain works in progress. The COVID-19 pandemic and funding challenges, including delayed disbursement to contractors, have contributed to the project's slow pace.

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Ehtisham Bashir, a senior journalist, highlighted the funding bottleneck, indicating that the contractor hasn't received full payments from the provincial government. Although the Sports Department cited pandemic-related delays, financial constraints are a significant hindrance, exacerbated by difficulties in purchasing essential items from foreign countries due to currency exchange issues.

Azmatullah, a sports reporter, emphasized the foreign purchases required for the stadium's restoration, which, coupled with the surge in the dollar's value, adds to the financial strain. He pointed out that the PTI dissolution of the provincial assembly and subsequent political changes further diverted attention from the project.

Mir Bishr, the stadium manager, acknowledged the impact of the 2022 floods on development works, affecting ongoing efforts. Despite setbacks, the management aims to complete the stadium's development by August, expressing hope for PSL's tenth edition to be held in Peshawar and restoring the city's cricket prominence.

The Arbab Niaz Stadium, formerly known as Peshawar Club Ground in the 1980s, earned its reputation as a venue for international cricket in 1985. The government began work to elevate it to international standards in 1984, aiming to make it a hub for both first-class and international cricket.

Despite the challenges, the stadium has witnessed historical moments, hosting 17 ODIs and seven Test matches since 1995. According to Cricinfo, the first one-day match between Pakistan and India, scheduled for November 2, 1984, was canceled due to the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Over the years, Arbab Niaz Stadium has seen significant matches, including the last ODI between Pakistan and India in 2006, where Pakistan emerged victorious by seven runs. It hosted its first Test match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 1995 and the last in 2003 against Bangladesh. However, it has yet to host a T20 international match.