PSL Thoughts


And so all attention is focused on coming Sunday night for the final of the Pakistan Super League 2017 between Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmis, with both teams having strong support. Bob Bhai is with the Gladiators, and if you want one reason for this, the reason is Sarfraz. Gutsy, inspiring, fighter to the last ball. A thinking captain who does not yell at his players like Afridi used to, and does not go off into deep somnolence on the field as Misbah tends to, taking nothing away from him otherwise.

Opinion is divided on the advisability of holding the final in Lahore. Yes, Pakistanis need live cricket. Yes, a Pakistan based tournament, all of it and not just the final, should be played in Pakistan.

No, it will not lead to the revival of international cricket in Pakistan anywhere in the near future. A revival does not depend on the success of holding one 4 hour match without incident. This depends on the overall security perception of Pakistan internationally.

No, holding the final in Lahore will not send a strong message to terrorists that the Pakistani nation will not be cowed down. This is nothing but empty rhetoric. The terrorists can strike anytime, anywhere in the country, as they have amply demonstrated time and again, and this is the sad reality. It is not as if the terrorists are going to call it a day and surrender on Monday morning after the Sunday final has been successfully held.

The answer to the elimination of terrorism is not such naïve bravado, playing to the gallery. We all know that. Except for boosting the ego of PCB and government of Punjab officials, holding the final in Lahore proves nothing. Holding an international sporting event should be a routine affair in any civilized country. If holding the event takes virtually locking down a city and deploying some 50,000 security personnel, we need to seriously think what is wrong with our society. And God forbid anything untoward should happen in any other city on Sunday, while all focus is on Lahore.

Also to be lamented is the fact that the star international players like Pietersen, Luke Wright, Rossouw and others, who made the PSL matches so very exciting, will be missing in action in the most important match itself – the final. As an inveterate cricket fan, I am not really sure if having the final in Lahore without these players was more important, or having an all-star final in Dubai itself would have been more thrilling.

Leaving this issue of the final aside, the main positive for me of PSL 2017 has been the great opportunity it has given to young, fresh talent to come forth. Some really promising players, both batsmen and bowlers have received wide national and international publicity. Although it must be kept in mind that the PSL performances, of both new faces and the old ones, need to be taken with a pinch of salt, given 2 things; first the dead wickets of UAE, and second the fact that among the foreign players, there was not a single batsman from ICC Top10 T20 batsmen ranking (no, Pietersen, Watson, Pollard, Gayle et al are not in the Top10!), and there were only 2 Top10 T20 bowler (Narine and Shakib).

Nevertheless, a wealth of promising talent has emerged and we really need to now put to pasture at least some of the oldies like Hafeez, Afridi (no taking back retirement decision please!) and Saeed Ajmal, and really focus on grooming the youngsters to become a strong unit for the next T20 World Cup. The only oldie I will still keep is Shoaib Malik, as the team does need an experienced all-rounder.

So looking ahead, my Pakistan T20 team in batting order will be:

Ahmed Shahzad (yes, discipline issues but then up to the management to sort this out because he is a great batsman and a confident opener)
Babar Azam
Asad Shafiq
Shoaib Malik
Sarfraz Ahmed (captain and wicketkeeper)
Imad Wasim (needs anger management to avoid future disciplinary issues)
Wahab Riaz
Mohammad Amir
Sohail Khan
Yasir Shah
Zulfiqar Babar

Reserves: Shadab Khan, Rumman Raees, Harris Sohail.,

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