In what was a befitting finale to a memorable competition, Lahore Qalandars prevailed over Multan Sultans by the narrowest of margins – one run – to win the eighth edition of the...
In what was a befitting finale to a memorable competition, Lahore Qalandars prevailed over Multan Sultans by the narrowest of margins – one run – to win the eighth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Saturday night. A big and vocal crowd supported the home team, ably captained by Shaheen Shah Afridi, as it marched to a second successive title-winning triumph in the PSL, an event that served as a welcome break for a nation currently besieged by political and economic uncertainty. The 2023 contest saw the welcome addition of Multan as one of the venues alongside Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi. It saw stunning performances from top class cricketers from Pakistan and abroad. Foreign stars like New Zealand’s Martin Guptill, England’s Alex Hales and Jason Roy, Australia’s Matthew Wade and Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan made their presence felt during the month-long PSL. However, despite the fact that the event witnessed a series of run-fests especially on the Pindi featherbed, three fast bowlers from Pakistan led the list of its top performers.
The fact that Shaheen Afridi was one of them was hardly surprising. The tall left-armer is regarded as one of best pacers in the world and he was one of the prime reasons why Lahore became the first team to defend its title in PSL history. For the first time in his impressive career, Shaheen emerged as a bit of an all-rounder with a couple of match-changing knocks during the event. While Shaheen’s success was expected, the exploits of Multan’s young pace duo of Ihsanullah and Abbas Afridi made headlines in a contest otherwise dominated by pinch-hitters. Both Ihsanullah and Abbas have emerged as top-class fast bowlers and should go on to make their mark at the international level just like Haris Rauf, also a PSL find. The duo, along with young local talent like Peshawar Zalmi’s Muhammad Harris and Saim Ayub, are the future of Pakistan cricket. Youngsters weren’t the only ones to shine during the PSL. Pakistan captain Babar Azam might not have succeeded in turning the tide for under-achieving Karachi Kings but he did show us why he is regarded among the best batters in the world with his superb batting during the contest.
Among the high points of the PSL was the series of exhibition games involving leading Pakistani and foreign women players. The series was a precursor for a PSL-style women’s T20 league which Pakistan plans to launch next year. Since its launch eight years ago, PSL has grown into one of the top T20 leagues in the world. Following plans announced by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) there are expectations of further expansion with two more teams and three more venues – Peshawar, Quetta and Faisalabad – likely to be added to next year’s PSL which will further consolidate its credentials as a truly national brand.