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February 22, 2018

The PSL is back

Editorial

February 22, 2018

The third edition of the Pakistan Super League promises to be the biggest one yet, with the Multan Sultans becoming the sixth franchise to join the T20 competition and three games scheduled to be held in Pakistan. Most intriguingly, the final will be played in Karachi – the first international match to be played in the city since 2009. Once again there will be a gluttony of international stars for cricket fans to feast on, with Brendon McCullum, Kevin Pietersen, Imran Tahir and Kieron Pollard among those signed up by the franchises. Among the favourites for the tournament will be the Quetta Gladiators, finalists in the first two tournaments, and the efficient Islamabad United. For cricket fans in Dubai, Sharjah, Lahore and Karachi, the PSL promises to be a rare treat of high-quality action. The run-up to the tournament was marred by the usual bureaucratic in-fighting, lawsuit threats and chaos. But, as is always the case with cricket and Pakistan, once the show is on the road all problems are quickly forgotten. Last year’s tournament was threatened by the spot-fixing scandal but the efficient way in which it was dealt by PSL organisers and the Pakistan Cricket Board ensured it did not derail the action on the cricket field. They will have to be equally nimble this time around to chalk up another resounding success.

For Pakistani cricket, the PSL is about a lot more than the tournament itself. Hosting the final without a glitch in Lahore last year – with many international players present – directly led to the visit of a World XI and then short tours by the West Indies and Sri Lanka. Now it is Karachi’s turn to demonstrate that it is a safe and vibrant international venue. The contribution the PSL has already made to the national team should not be overlooked either. Players like Shahdab Khan, who have quickly become mainstays of our team, were unearthed by PSL franchises. The presence of international coaches and use of analytics seems to have already led to higher standards, with the team ascending to the number one ranking for T20s last month. Our international isolation and India’s refusal to allow Pakistani players in the IPL meant we were lagging behind the rest of the world. The PSL has given Pakistani players an opportunity to catch up and Pakistani fans the chance to finally watch their heroes at home. The ambition now is to be able to host the entire tournament in Pakistan. Should the PSL be as successful as one hopes, that ambition may soon be realised.

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