The fourth edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) begins on February 14 in the UAE. The final is to be played in Karachi on March 17. The good news is that eight matches of the tournament will be played in Pakistan.
Last year only Elimination matches and the final were played in Lahore and Karachi, respectively. The first season was played entirely in the UAE. The matches of the fourth edition will be played at four venues: Dubai, Sharjah, Lahore, and Karachi.
Defending champions Islamabad United will begin their title defence against Lahore Qalandars in the tournament opener. Islamabad were the ones who won the first edition. The second was won by Peshawar Zalmi.
Pakistani cricket fans must be excited to watch leading international players, including AB de Villiers, Darren Sammy, Luke Ronchi, Kieron Pollard, Colin Munro, Corey Anderson, and Andre Russell in action on their soil.
Besides the attraction of financial rewards, it is the manner in which foreign players are treated here which makes foreign players choose to appear in the PSL.
West Indian player and Peshawar Zalmi captain Darren Sammy is very popular in Pakistan. A few days back he reached Peshawar for the launching ceremony of Peshawar Zalmi’s official kit for PSL season 4.
Sammy received a warm welcome everywhere he visited. People clicked selfies with the cricketer. The all-rounder was gifted a Peshawari chappal on the occasion as well.
Bangladesh and Peshawar Zalmi opener Tamim Iqbal believes PSL has the potential to grow bigger than the Big Bash League (BBL) and become the second biggest T20 tournament in the world.
“Playing in the PSL has been a great experience for me. I was lucky to have played in the tournament. I can safely say with conviction that this is a fantastic tournament and has the potential and all the hallmarks to be the second best franchise-based T20 tournament in the world very soon,” Tamim said during the third edition of PSL.
The grand opening ceremony of PSL 2019 will include performances by some of the most prominent names in the entertainment industry.
American rapper Pitbull and Boney M are expected to headline the opening ceremony. Besides, there will be Pakistan’s popular band Junoon, Young Desi, Fawad Khan, Aima Baig and Shuja Haider.
After Indian Premier League, PSL is the most competitive and well-organised league in the world. It is better than Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) and Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
One of the positive aspects of PSL is that it gives the Pakistani players the chance to share dressing rooms with renowned international players and gain valuable experience.
Local boys have also got financial incentives that they could never have achieved from domestic cricket.
Moreover, the league has given us players like Hasan Ali, Rumman Raees, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Asghar, Mohammad Nawaz and Fakhar Zaman.
Many of these players contributed in a big way to the Champions Trophy triumph in 2017.
Pakistani domestic cricketers are some of the lowest paid professional cricketers in the world. The money offered in PSL motivates the youngsters to work harder as they hope to get signed by PSL franchises.
In the past, the only way for local cricketers to be financially secure was to get a place in the international team, which of course only a few can manage.
Usama Mir, who represented Karachi Kings during the first edition of the tournament, once said: “I absorbed so much just sitting next to Ravi. He taught me how to cope under pressure and gave me advice on how I can develop my batting. Simply watching him prepare pre-game was an eye opener for me.
“The intensity and focus in his training was beneficial. I strongly believe cricketers improve when playing against strong opponents. With four overseas cricketers permitted per squad, it increases the competitiveness and quality of the tournament,“ he said.
Young cricketers go into the international cricket sphere having played under pressure, and thus they are familiar with strong opponents due to the leagues.
As the League is expanding, it will give more emerging players an opportunity to play with senior players.
In the first two editions, five teams participated with each side playing all the others twice. In the third year, a sixth franchise, Multan Sultans, was added and the total number of matches increased from 18 to 34.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the government of Pakistan are confident of organising PSL fifth edition completely in Pakistan.
Recently, West Indies women cricket team toured Pakistan which tells the world that Pakistan is safe to visit.