Pakistan Super League (PSL) inaugural edition will kick off on February 4 in the UAE, where five teams named after the four provincial capitals; Karachi (Sindh), Lahore (Punjab), Peshawar (KP), Quetta (Balochistan), and one team named after the federal capital Islamabad will take part in a 20-day long tournament.
There is no doubt that the PSL project will take the country's talent to new heights and can only be described as a win-win for the cricket obsessed nation. However, the obvious comparisons to the most successful cricket league, the Indian Premier League (IPL), can't be avoided largely due to the intense rivalry between the neighbours.
The Express Tribune took a look at the key differences between the PSL and the IPL, including target audiences, pay scales for cricketers and other interesting aspects.
That's not it. We also spoke to former cricketer-convert commentator Ramiz Raja and Pakistan T20I captain Shahid Afrid on how the league will hold up in the future.
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To start off, the difference in wages is startling but also a given considering it will be the PSL's first edition and the smaller target audience. The highest paid players in PSL (Shahid Afridi and four other 'Icon' players ) will earn $200,000, compared to a whopping $2.5 million being paid as remuneration to IPL's Virat Kohli.
The duration and matches played in the IPL will also dwarf the PSL events. A total of 24 matches will be played over 20 days in the PSL, while 60 matches will be played over 45 days in the IPL.
T20 leagues around the world are largely inspired by the success of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and there is good reason for its success: a massive target audience for IPL. We will have to wait to see how many tune in for PSL.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Raja said the PSL-IPL comparison is futile for now. "It's just a start. We definitely should hope for better things in future," he said.
“We should not compare PSL with IPL. IPL is a settled tournament, it has a special window from the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the whole world gets hooked to it," he added.
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The former opening batsman went on to say that players should expect the pay scale to increase after a few editions of the PSL as sponsors and greater investment will come with time.
“We have to develop a robust model,”said Ramiz. “The initial target should be to create and then sustain the credibility of the tournament.
“Once we set up the credibility of the tournament, I am sure more brands and sponsors, who are waiting to see what the PSL has in store for them, will come forward and invest. This will eventually increase the flow of money into the league and eventually for the players.”
The 53-year-old said that the draft system of selecting players in the PSL might be replaced by player’s auction in the future. “We should not rule out the possibility of player’s auction in future editions of PSL,” Ramiz concluded.
Meanwhile, Afridi said PSL would only get bigger once the tournament comes back to Pakistan.
“It [PSL] will get bigger as time goes on,” said Afridi while talking The Express Tribune. “Once the tournament is organised in Pakistan, I think everything will get bigger and better.”
The 35-year-old went on to say that PSL will help Pakistan cricket in moving forward, and for now, the focus should be on building the credibility of the tournament.
“PSL will help Pakistan cricket immensely in moving forward. As of now, we should not focus on the amount of money a player will earn from the tournament. Instead, the focus should be on building the credibility of the tournament,” he added.