Pakistan moves Twenty20 over dengue outbreak

Pakistan cricket authorities were Wednesday forced to shift the national Twenty20 tournament to Karachi after an outbreak of dengue fever in Lahore, the tournament’s original venue.

President Asif Zardari, who is also the patron of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), said the tournament should also be used as a fund-raising event for the flood victims in the southwestern Sindh province.

“As desired by the president of Pakistan, the venue of the tournament has been shifted from Lahore to Karachi,” a PCB statement said.

The dengue fever outbreak in Lahore, which has so far claimed several lives, prompted concerns among various teams, including Afghanistan, which is also competing.

And PCB director general Javed Miandad said the decision would help players take to the field without worry.

“There was a suggestion that because of the dengue virus we should transfer the event from Lahore and after president’s directives we took this decision,” Miandad told reporters.

He added that the tournament will help raise funds for millions of displaced flood victims in Sindh.

International cricket has been suspended in Pakistan since the March 2009 terrorist attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore, after which foreign teams refused to tour the troubled country.

Deprived of international cricket, fans in Pakistan take a keen interest in domestic Twenty20 events, filling the stadiums to capacity.