League of ‘ageing stars’ cannot be compared with PSL: Sethi

Published January 29, 2016
“A lot of Pakistanis will come to watch our games,” Sethi says of the Pakistan Super League. — AFP/file
“A lot of Pakistanis will come to watch our games,” Sethi says of the Pakistan Super League. — AFP/file

Kumar Sangakarra smacked a total of six fours and seven huge sixes in blistering 86 off 43 balls as the Gemini Arabians piled up 234 runs in the opening encounter of the Masters Champions League (MCL) against Libra Legends on Thursday in UAE.

The trademark pick up shot over midwicket and the picture-perfect cover drives were all on display as commentators argued why the 38-year-old Sangakkara had quit international cricket so soon.

But they soon conceded that the Sri Lankan great had a bit of an advantage facing up to bowlers who, in some cases, had last played an international match five years ago. The Arabians beat the legends by 78 runs in the end and the lopsided battles such Thursday's match and near empty stands quickly raised fears for the MCL's long-term viability.

It also provided the organisers of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), also being held in the UAE, with a few lessons as league chairman Najam Sethi and co look to launch the tournament on February 4.

The PSL and MCL play on the same day on seven occasions, but according to Sethi, the two league couldn't be compared as was evident by the dismal crowd turnout on Thursday.

“You can't compare a league of aging “has beens” like MCL with a league of today's cricket stars like PSL,” Sethi told Dawn.

On Friday, Abu Dhabi newspaper The National reported that “the attendance was little more than the sort that would usually come to watch Test cricket at this ground. It was that bad.” But former PCB chairman, Sethi, is confident PSL will attract much bigger numbers.

“A lot of Pakistanis will come to watch our games. Ticket sales are picking up briskly and all PSL signals are green.”

Sethi said television rights would be the PSL’s biggest revenue source, though, while the MCL organisers have also predicted that 60-70 per cent of their income would eventually come from subcontinent broadcast rights.

As the opening day of the MCL suggested it will be a challenge for both leagues to draw in large crowds and become the tournament of choice for the fans in the Emirates.

The PSL kicks off on February 4 with Islamabad United taking on Quetta Gladiators in Dubai.

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