Homecoming

Now that the PSL T20 cricket tournament is being held entirely in Pakistan, it would do a world of good if more home-based venues were developed for local crowds to enjoy the game.

By Taha Kehar | March 2020


The Pakistan Super League (PSL) has entered its much-awaited fifth season. Unlike previous editions of the cricket extravaganza, all 34 matches of the T20 league, which began on February 20 and will conclude on March 22, are being played in Pakistan.

By relocating the matches of the tournament to Multan, Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has reinforced the belief that international Test cricket is witnessing a revival in the country. In December 2019, Pakistan’s Test cricket drought ended after a long hiatus of 10 years when Sri Lanka played Test matches in Karachi and Rawalpindi during a 16-day tour. This was a major turning point since Pakistan hadn’t hosted a Test series on home soil since 2009 when the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked in Lahore. What’s more, the resumption of Test matches served as welcome proof that Pakistan’s security concerns were a thing of the past.

Cricket has always remained the cynosure of controversy in Pakistan following the spot-fixing scandal of 2010 that culminated in copious professional bans and court battles. In addition, the Pakistan cricket team’s arbitrary performance on the pitch and the complacency of the cricket bureaucracy did little to save the game.

Under these circumstances, the PSL emerged as a much-needed morale-booster that was geared to helping the country’s cricketing sphere rise from the morass of mediocrity it found itself in. The first season of the tournament inspired skeptical reactions from cricket fans and former players. At the time, analysts believed that the cricket carnival was a little more than a hastily arranged T20 project – a thinly-veiled gimmick that would expose the alleged incompetence and machinations of the PCB. A series of questions were raised over the PCB’s ability to host a cricket tournament in the UAE. Furthermore, the fact that the initiative was shelved twice before for “logistical and security concerns” led many cricket aficionados to cast doubt on the league’s viability. Despite this tepid response, the organizers repeatedly assured their detractors that the PSL would reap dividends for Pakistan cricket by enabling players to strengthen their performance on an international footing.

Now in its fifth edition, the PSL has burgeoned into a global event and the league has drawn international players from South Africa, New Zealand, England, Zimbabwe, Australia and the West Indies. It now boasts six teams as opposed to its original five franchises, attracts leading sponsors and international broadcasters, and offers cricket-starved fans with an opportunity to fulfill their passion for the game.

This year, the organizers have succeeded in hosting the entire cricket extravaganza on home turf – an impressive yet difficult achievement. During the previous seasons of the tournament, a few matches were held in stadiums across Pakistan and drew much larger crowds than the PSL matches held in the UAE. As a result, sports analysts vociferously declared that the long-term survival of the T20 league was contingent on its homecoming.

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he writer is a journalist and author. He analyses international issues and can be reached at
tahakehar2@gmail.com

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