(Web Desk) — The emotional roller coaster that is Pakistan Super League (PSL) reaches the end of the line this weekend. It has infused life into the ailing Pakistani cricket circuit as well as garnering the interest of the fans that have glued themselves to the TV sets as the fixtures unfold late at night. The players, most of whom have had their international exposure entirely at away or ‘home’ pitches of UAE, have given it their all as the battle out to be crowned as the champions of the inaugral T20 league. The first of its kind for Pakistan and hopefully not the last. The goal, as the Chairman PCB stated, is to bring the cricket home in the 3rd or 4th edition of the PSL.
PSL has inspired many a fan, the author included. It would be an injustice to dub the event as a “poor man’s IPL”. There are no multi-million dollar contracts for local players, the franchises don’t cost a fortune and there are no cheerleaders (praise the Lord for that). But we, the Pakistanis, will take it gladly and without questions. Blood is thicker than water, afterall.
The after-effects of the PSL will be long felt after the T20 tournament is over. A new crop of aspiring cricketers, who have had Kevin Pietersen, Chris Gayle and Shane Watson as their ideals, will compete tooth and nail to fight for a spot alongside (and against) them. Player wages will rise and so will the amount of exposure afforded to a domestic player of Pakistani origin. No matter which team wins this Sunday, its a win-win for Pakistan.
Here are a number of reasons why PSL is the best thing to happen to Pakistan cricket for the better part of this century:
1. Local Franchises, International Scope:
You have Kevin Pietersen donning the Quetta Gladiators’ outfit. Darren Sammy wears the yellow clothing of Peshawar Zalmi. Brad Haddin and Andrew Russell sit on the bench of Islamabad United with the young guns. The Lahore Qalandars camp features Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle and Kevon Cooper.
The franchises might have local names but the opportunities afforded are of international level, offering the emerging players to rub shoulders with the veterans of the T20 circuit.
2. Boom of cash inflow:
As per a report, an IPL playing cricketer takes home a whooping 80 lacs INR. The ones that play Big Bash League earn somewhere around that figure as well. Whereas in the past, cricketers in Pakistan survived on meager salaries paid by the banks or government departments alone. With the advent of Pakistan’s own international T20 leagues, the situation will turn for the better for the average cricketer in Pakistan.
3. Celebrity Endorsements:
There have been countless endorsements by actors and artists throughout the country. Advertisements, both on mainstream and social media caught the attention of people who were eager to see their stars and the teams they were supporting. For a while, everyone jumped on the bandwagon, and for the sake of Pakistani cricket, nothing could do more good than traction among fans.
4. Bowler Dominated T20s:
Pakistan is primarily a bowler oriented cricket team whilst T20 is primarily a batsman’s game. From longer bats to shorter boundaries, everything favours the batsman from fielding restrictions to new format of power play. Power hitting batsmen are valued more than immaculate bowlers who bowl pristine line and length. IPL, BBL and English cricketing circuit all have followed the trend of high scoring feasts. In PSL, however, the game has turned around for the bowlers. Pakistan has never been short of talent in the bowling department, polished or emerging, which was showcased by the fact that 140-150 was a stellar total for most teams to chase most of the times. Teams batting first fared far worse than their chasing counterparts. T20, it was showed, could be a bowlers’ game as much as a batsmen.
When most of the bowlers that take to the field are Pakistani, you can expect the bowling to be very competitive.
5. A Touch of Desi:
To the eyes of fanboys of the game (such as myself), T20 tournaments had always been exotic when they were played in other countries. From Brisbane to Chennai and Sabina Park to Lords, the dancing cheerleaders of IPL or flashing wickets of BBL, everything was ‘exotic’ rather than ‘my own’. As a Pakistani spectator whose cricketing grounds have been abandoned for the better part of a decade ever since that fateful Lahore attack on Sri Lankan team, the PSL comes as a fresh breath in an atmosphere where cricketing space has been suffocated.
But with PSL, familiar celebrities in the crowd along with the fact that whenever a team plays, at least 7 Pakistanis are playing, assures me that wherever the newly minted tournament is heading, it bears well for the cricket in the country.
Pakistani fans right now: