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great expectations from New PSL Members

Thursday, February 9, 2017 5:45
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After a maiden season in which the PSL found its feet, there are bigger expectations of Pakistan’s T20 league this time around Upon the creation of the IPL, and the riches it showered on the BCCI, Pakistan looked on enviously. It wasn’t just that another board was being enriched by a tournament more successful than Lalit Modi’s wilder dreams could have envisioned, it was the Indian board. And though political differences between the two countries have never been stated as the reason, Pakistan’s players have not played the IPL after the first season in 2008. As players from around the world stuck their fingers into the IPL pie, Pakistan looked on enviously. Soon, Cricket Australia came up with its own T20 competition, and cricket in the AFL-dominated country was cool and trendy once more. T20 tournaments then began to proliferate. Before you knew it, West Indies had the Caribbean Premier League, and Sri Lanka and Bangladesh their own Premier Leagues. The locals of Brisbane, Chennai and Port-of-Spain could all see Brendon McCullum rock up to play for their team. Still, Pakistan looked on enviously. For what could they do? International cricket had not been played in Pakistan since 2009, so how was the PCB going to attract international players? The idea of a league in the UAE had been floated for years, but the PCB’s internal disputes and lack of continuity kept such prospects at bay. Until 2015, when Najam Sethi finally consolidated power at the PCB and began to put the plan into action. Initial attempts to hold the league in the UAE, even, were rebuffed and Qatar was mooted as a possible venue. However, the PCB pushed hard, a deal was struck, and the rest is history. The Pakistan Super League, which according to Najam Sethi was expected to make a loss, recorded profits of $2.6 million, with high television ratings and a passionate following. The success of the PSL is a greater achievement than that of any other T20 league, simply because of the unique challenges it faced, from not taking place in the home country to a clash with the Masters Champions League in its opening season, which brought notable scheduling difficulties of its own. While the PSL was something of an unknown quantity in its first season, its goals are more transparent and ambitious this time. Pakistani fans have watched world-class cricketers rub shoulders with local heroes, and comparisons online with BBL followers or IPL devotees are lively, unchecked, and often unprintable. The PSL chairman Sethi was in an equally buoyant mood, saying last month the league was determined to become the second best T20 league in the world, with the defiant vow to hold the final in Lahore, come what may.

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