RAWALPINDI - Rawalpindi is all set to host the Cool & Cool Presents Jazz National Twenty20 Cup 2016 here at the Pindi Cricket Stadium from today (Thursday).

The first match of the event will be played between Karachi Regions (W) and Karachi Region (B) at 4pm, while the second match will be played between Lahore Region (W) and Lahore Region (B) at 8pm.

Top eight teams of the country will vie for top honours, but arrangements looked far from over, as grass cutting machine was busy in levelling the grass of the stadium. PCB Governing Board powerful member Shakil Shaikh has been named as chairman tournament organising committee, with Rawalpindi Region president Major (R) Naeem Gillani along with seven others as member of the organising committee.

When this scribe visited Pindi Stadium on Wednesday to get details regarding security and other issues, Shakil Shakih, like other PCB officials, was missing. When this correspondent visited Rawalpindi Region office, president Major (R) Naeem Gilani was present at his office. When asked about arrangements and whether ground is ready to host the first phase of the mega event, Gilani said: “The arrangements are in final stages and the venue will be ready to host matches prior to the start.

“We are giving final touches to ground and grass cutting machine is working, while PCB curator Riaz has done a tremendous job. Only a week prior to the start of the event, the ground was giving deserted look, as there were holes and no grass at the stadium, but Riaz and his team did splendid job and ensured the venue must be ready before the start of the matches,” he added.

When asked why injustices being done with local Rawalpindi players, who played out their hearts in shinning sun and bore cold weathers, but when it came to selection, the guests players or near and dear ones were given nod of approval, Gilani said: “This time, we had to pick players through auction. The Pindi-based players were given top priority, but he failed to justify number of players, who were not considered, while the players, whom given priority over locals, didn’t look like justifying their places.”

To a query regarding the performance of Pindi team which failed to cross even the first round, Gilani said: “Yes, in the past, the performance of Pindi team was not up to the mark. I am completely satisfied with head coach Sabih Azhar’s performances and I can assure this time, Pindi team will at least play the semifinals. We have picked a balanced side. I always provide justice to the players. I was not president in the past, but now I am president and it is my request to the journalists to provide names of the deprived and ignored players. I promise justice will prevail.”

When asked about a number of flaws witnessed as genuine ticket-holders remain outside the ground, while near and dear ones occupy seats, he said: “We will charge Rs 100 for ordinary stands, while region gets around 250 passes daily, which are distributed among district and local affiliated clubs.”

He suggested security forces should be kept outside the venue and used as rapid response force during emergency only to ensure only genuine ticket-holders get smooth passage into the ground, as it was done everywhere in the world that the security forces were deployed outside the stadiums, while there were only a few persons inside the venue. He ruled out regional guests outnumbered genuine ticket-holders.

About security arrangements, Gilani said: “I am satisfied with security arrangement. Although I have heard about the threats, but the arrangements made by security agencies are quite good and hopefully with the help of public, we will manage to conduct the event smoothly.”

When asked security agencies had refused to provide security on August 28 and requested to change the date of the matches or move the matches of that particular date due to Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) rally, Gilani said: “Yes, we have changed the matches and rescheduled them. Now the morning match of August 28 will be played on August 27 at 9am and the second match will be played on August 29 at 9am.”

When asked there was no emergency firefighting equipment at Pindi Stadium, and in case of emergency, it would take long time for fire brigades to refill and return and secret reports had suggested everything would be turn into ashes in case of accidental fire and it costs only a few thousand rupees to install the equipment, Gilani failed to answer the question.