The second edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) is set to quiver the night air in the UAE when it announces its presence from the 9th of February. Following last year’s format, the tournament will feature 5 teams that will battle it out in 20 matches to reach the playoff stage, where the top 4 from the league will have a chance to reach the grand final.
While last year’s PSL was a first for Pakistan in how the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) organized a grandiose event to show the rise of cricket in Pakistan, this time will be more special. After weeks of planning, it was decided that the final was to be held in Pakistan at the Qaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Sunday, the 5th of March. This was a decision welcomed by Pakistanis, who have been left agonized by the limited international cricket on home soil following a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009, that indefinitely halted foreign players from playing in Pakistan. The PCB’s confidence perhaps stems from the fact that they were able to arrange a successful visit from Zimbabwe in 2015, also in Lahore. If the PCB is able to hold a safe and secure PSL final, it will surely become an example to showcase when negotiating with teams in the future to play in Pakistan.
Last year, the success of the PSL was unprecedented. While the PCB expected to only break-even on their investment in the event, it ended up earning a profit to the tune of $2.6 million. However, with some franchises incurring a loss, the PCB did give out $2 million to them, leaving them with $0.6 million. Nevertheless, the fact that the PSL even turned a profit was a head-turner. The event has only paved the way for the PCB to become financially independent, which will allow it to run domestic cricket in a better and more organized manner, free from economic mismanagement and malpractices.
The PCB also incorporated some facets from the success of the PSL to its own domestic set-up. The Pentangular Trophy (Pakistan Cup), Pakistan’s premier one-day tournament, had a draft system introduced, based on the lines of the one in the PSL. The National T20 Cup, while also having a draft, even had its number of teams reduced from 18 to 8, making it more competitive. Potentially, these changes could be the driving force towards the revival of quality cricket in Pakistan, which would lead to the national team becoming stronger.
Away from the cricket, the PSL also positively affected culture in Pakistan. All franchises had a song and Peshawar Zalmi even had an entire album, which was also accessible from the Indian music application Saavn. Tweets in local languages by @OfficialPSL, the truck passing by at every milestone, and foreign players learning a bit of Urdu, all added to the fun in last year’s PSL. Fans in Pakistan and around the world, surely can’t wait for season 2.
With the PSL being what seems to be the bedrock for change in Pakistan cricket, it is only up to PCB and us, to make sure that this edition turns out to be a success story. A strong PSL will only lead to a stronger domestic cricket set-up, and will invite more potential for public and even private funding in this domain. Rallying behind the PSL and promoting it far and wide on social media and other avenues will further boost Pakistan’s image abroad, which will be essential in bringing cricket and other sports back home.