Three cheers for PSL

By staging a memorable final in Karachi, the PSL continues to take massive strides forward, writes K Shahid

Three cheers for PSL
Two days from now, Karachi will host the first of a three-match T20 series against the West Indies, which will be the first international match in the city for almost a decade.

That, right here, is the continuation of the fruits that the Pakistan Super League continues to bring for national cricket: having been instrumental in bringing the World XI and the Sri Lankan side to Lahore, it now has opened the gates for Karachi as well.

While the PSL final last year became the selling point for Lahore, the same is true for Karachi after a truly memorable night in the city as the finale for season three ended in front of a packed National Stadium that has been starving owing to a lack of high-profile cricket.

Understandably, the security level was unprecedentedly high in Karachi. But this was similar to how the PSL Final in Lahore was staged, which despite having the precedence of the Zimbabwe series from May 2015, was still a completely different ball game for the organisers.

Sahibzada Farhan

And as the two playoffs this year showcased, things are being increasingly streamlined in Lahore, as the city hosts a rising number of international matches. The same will be true for Karachi, now that it will have international cricket returning, beginning with the West Indies tour in the coming week.

Furthermore, Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Najam Sethi has also announced that next year half of the PSL matches would be hosted in the country, which means further inroads into bringing more international teams to Pakistan, and also bolstering the PSL brand, with the obvious added economic incentives of more and more matches being played in front of packed stadia in the country which actually owns the league.

Of course, while the off-field achievements are massive and look like they are continuously increasing, what the PSL has done for on-field matters is there for all to see as well, with a turnaround in fortunes for limited-overs cricket emanating from the stars that the league has provided the national side.

These include the likes of Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman and Hasan Ali, who were instrumental in Pakistan’s Champions Trophy win and also Rumman Raees and Usman Khan Shinwari who are an impressive future of the gift that fast bowling talent in the country keeps on giving.

Darren Sammy and Misbah-ul-Haq

As the PSL continues to achieve everything it sets out to do - and some - there is no bigger gainer than Pakistan and Pakistan cricket

This year, the winners Islamabad United had a fountain of youthful talent, giving Pakistan the likes of Asif Ali, Hussain Talat and Sahibzada Farhan. The runners-up Peshawar Zalmi too have brought forward the likes of Sameen Gul, Umaid Asif and Ibtisam Sheikh. Even Lahore Qalandars who finished bottom of the table showcased the likes of Shaheen Khan Afridi and Agha Salman.

Some of the young blood that has come forward after PSL 3 will be given a chance in the West Indies series. Others would be advised to continue working hard and eye a slot in the national side in the future, with next year’s PSL 4 being another opportunity for these and other youngsters to make a name for themselves.

And while the PSL remains the ideal stage and the springboard for the future of cricket, it has also showcased some of the very best of the present and indeed the past as well.

Shadab Khan, Luke Ronchi and Samit Patel

Chris Jordan taking one of the catches of the tournament

Unfortunately, some major names like Shane Watson, Eoin Morgan and Kevin Pietersen opted out of touring Pakistan for the playoffs and the final, but at the same time PSL had its player of the tournament Luke Ronchi at his explosive best throughout the league, including the final in Karachi.

There were also the likes of Darren Sammy, Thisara Perera, and JP Duminy who toured Pakistan and further helped the country in inviting international stars in the near future.

As the PSL continues to achieve everything it sets out to do – and some –there is no bigger gainer than Pakistan and Pakistan cricket. And if the first three years are anything to go by, things should continue to grow exponentially come this time next year, at the end of PSL 4.