The night of February 23 at the Dubai International Stadium was a celebration of Pakistan cricket and its strength as Islamabad United roared their way through to annexing the glittering trophy for the inaugural edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), beating Quetta Gladiators in the final.
Six months ago, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had vowed to make the league a success but its claims drew sharp flak from both local and international pundits as holding a domestic tournament at an offshore venue seemed a tough case to sell. But the much-maligned cricket administrators need to be applauded for their tenaciousness. From the outset, there was an unprecedented buzz, at the two venues in Dubai and Sharjah, as well as among the passionate Pakistan cricket fan base.
The glittering opening ceremony was comparable with any that a cricket event has ever witnessed and the quality of cricket, especially from teams like Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi, touched the hearts of millions as they endeavoured to bring back smiles to the largely troubled cities. The league continued to gather momentum as the play-offs neared. Admittedly, it was not always possible to fill the stadiums on weekdays at offshore venues. However, the PSL managed to do what appeared to be very difficult when talk of holding the league had first emerged — it has put Pakistan cricket on the map. The presence of international stars like Kevin Pietersen, Darren Sammy, Shane Watson, Ravi Bopara and Andre Russell added to the glitter and they had plenty to say about the quality of the competition as Pakistan’s young brigade revelled in the company of the big stars. While the PSL cannot be termed as an antidote to all that plagues Pakistan cricket, its first edition has certainly indicated that the country has much to offer the global cricketing fraternity. All in all, it can be termed a success and we hope that the PCB and the five franchises maintain the momentum to ensure that the succeeding editions are as successful as the inaugural one.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2016.