PSL: a success story for Pakistan

 

There is never a dull moment in the world of cricket
There is never a dull moment in the world of cricket

...and the credit goes to the crowd, groundstaff, the PCB and security agencies (Army, Rangers and Police)

By Liaqat Ali

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Published: Sun 22 Mar 2020, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Mon 23 Mar 2020, 1:00 AM

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has shown the world that the country is safe and ready to host international sports events by staging the entire Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Pakistan. It was unfortunate that the tournament could not be completed due to the pandemic outbreak of Covid-19, which forced the premature end of the event.

The PCB tried its best to complete the tournament but it was not to be. The original schedule was changed and final date was brought forward, but due to unavoidable circumstances the tournament was postponed.
The PCB hosted 30 matches at four venues (Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan) and response of the crowd was brilliant. The jam-packed stadiums witnessed the top-class cricket and even Prime Minister Imran Khan was forced to admit that now it feels that the PSL is being held.

In fact, it was the prime minister who announced in 2018 that the next PSL will be held entirely in Pakistan. Many doubted that the country would be able to host the tournament at home. But the PCB took the initiative and convinced foreign players that Pakistan is safe to play the game and they responded. There were nearly 50 foreigners who were part of the PSL, including Dale Steyn, Alex Hales, Chris Lynn, Ben Dunk and Rilee Rossouw.
There was never a dull moment in the first round of the tournament. The semifinal line-up was not decided until the last match of the group stage.

Defending champions Quetta Gladiators were pipped by Peshawar Zalmi on better net run rate to find a place in the semifinals. Rivalry between Lahore and Karachi is second to none and spectators were not disappointed. Both the teams won their home ties and were pitted against each other in the semifinals. Spectators were expecting a cracker of the semifinal between them in Lahore but it did not happen due to the postponement.
The PSL has been a huge success. The credit goes to the crowd, groundstaff, the PCB and security agencies (Army, Rangers and Police).

The PSL has produced a number of players in the past like Fakhar Zaman and Shaheen Shah Afridi who are part of the national team. It was no exception this year as a group of fast bowlers and a couple of young batsmen have caught the eye during the tournament with their standout performances.

It was a big learning process for many youngsters. Mohammad Hasnain, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf are exciting talent and will serve Pakistan for a long time. It is very rare to see such a battery of young fast bowlers who can bowl at 150km.

Another fast bowler who impressed in this PSL was Dilbar Hussain from Lahore Qalandars who generates good pace with a short run-up. Chief selector and coach Misbah ul Haq might have watched him closely and he may consider him for World Cup T20 squad going to be held in Australia in October-November.

Now it is the duty of the PCB to handle the young fast bowlers with care because it is very rare to have this calibre of burgeoning fast bowlers in such numbers. Pakistan is known to produce fast bowlers from nowhere but there is a dearth of batting talent in the country.

But if we look at the young guy like Haider Ali from Peshawar Zalmi, he looks a future prospect for Pakistan. He played some entertaining knocks for Zalmi in this PSL and his confidence and ability will help him to play for Pakistan sooner than later. Khushdil Shah from Multan Sultans was another find of the tournament. He has temperament and ability to play for the national team one day.

Zeeshan Ashraf a wicket-keeper batsman from Multan Sultans was also very impressive. The PSL can develop him into a big player in future. Sports events all over the world have become victim of Covid-19 pandemic. The PCB was forced to abandon the tournament as chief executive Wasim Khan said: "This is an unprecedented situation, which is evolving with each passing day. The PCB has closely monitored the situation and taken precautionary measures, including consultation with relevant authorities and temperature screening of players, officials and media on match and non-match days.

"The PCB believes that it has made the right decisions in the lead up to the postponement of the tournament that included consulting the team owners, holding the matches behind closed doors, allowing the players an option to withdraw from the tournament, rescheduling of the matches and reducing the number of event days.
"Obviously before postponing the tournament, we took into confidence the team owners.

"The PCB will use its reach and influence to play its part in all government's drives and initiatives to create awareness and dealing with this pandemic. The PCB hopes and prays that normalcy returns quickly to our society so that everyone can return to a healthy and routine lifestyle and we can bring back cricket to the fans."
Meanwhile, foreigners were all praise for the Pakistan's hospitality. Karachi Kings head coach Dean Jones, in his departing message on Twitter, declared his team's fans the best group of fans in the league.

"A huge thanks to the Karachi Kings fans for your love and support. The best fans in the PSL. Thank you to my team. What a great bunch of cricketers and more importantly men. Until next year, the Blue Book is closed," Jones tweeted. Lahore Qalandars' hard-hitting batsman Ben Dunk hailed his franchise for their support and said he will be back again.
"There's more to life than cricket. A big thank you to Lahore Qalandars for an amazing PSL. Hopefully see you all again soon. Look after each other," Dunk tweeted.

Multan Sultans' all-rounder Ravi Bopara floated a unique idea to decide the winners of this season.
"As the elderly are more vulnerable to the Coronavirus, it's only fair the oldest average age team in the PSL 5 to take the trophy," Bopara tweeted.

- liaqat@khaleejtimes.com




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