The much-anticipated second edition of the Pakistan Super League rolls into action at glitzy venues of the UAE with millions of Pakistanis glued to their television sets. There will be big corporate goals. Because following the success of the first edition of the league, PSL has unarguably become the biggest sporting spectacle for the nation.
Last year on February 4, Pakistan’s former legendary pacer Wasim Akram tweeted: “Today is not just the launch of a league, it’s the making of Cricket history for Pakistan. It’s the future. #LetTheGamesBegin #PSL2016”
There was a huge hype then and it is bigger this year as loads of sponsors are joining the PSL bandwagon to place their names for publicity at different levels.
There was an air created before the first season of the league that PSL would provide a platform for relatively unknown cricketers to make their presence felt. That they will be able to come into limelight and polish their game to revive the fortunes of Pakistan cricket. However, those fortunes were harshly trampled Down Under recently.
All those who have put money in the PSL basket would tell you that there were no commercial interests in the league and that they have been doing this because they think it their social responsibility.
But PSL is lucrative and there are reports that the worth of PSL and its franchises has significantly increased. It is the best platform in Pakistan for companies to present themselves or their products for recognition.
Plenty of talent hunt programmes were conducted by franchises after the success of the league. Let us hope these talent hunts prove to be the game changer this time.
The big question is: “would they be able to do something extraordinary where their predecessors failed? Would they be able to beat Australia in their own backyard?’
A good thing is that the final is going to be held in Lahore this time. That will be the best thing happening to Pakistan cricket for a while.
PCB must be expecting quite a houseful at the Gaddafi Stadium on March 7 and highest TRP. The board should remain determined to hold the final in Lahore come what may.
Unfortunately, PCB or say PSL management has kept a window open for itself if it finds it difficult to convince foreign players to come down to Lahore.
It says on its official website that if no one is ready to play in Lahore regardless of financial incentives and guarantees about security then the final will be played in Dubai. Arrangements for such an eventuality have already been made, it adds.
The PSL management should have remained silent on this matter even if it had made a Plan B. The disclosure gives a window for a hesitant player to pull out. But hopefully, the final will be hosted in Pakistan and the world will see a jam-packed crowd. That might make them guilty conscious of depriving a cricket-hungry nation of international action.
This holding of the final in Lahore can justify PCB’s efforts it has put into PSL. Otherwise, world-class talent is yet to be seen rising from PCB efforts or PSL platform.