KARACHI: Former national chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed Sallu hopes that the third season of the fast-rising Pakistan Super League (PSL) would offer more competitive edge than the first two editions of the franchise-based T20 league with Multan Sultans expanding the league to a six-team event.
Speaking to Dawn on Monday, a day after the much-anticipated player draft was held in Lahore, Salahuddin, who is a current adviser to PCB chief for the southern region, observed the popularity of the tournament has risen to new heights.
“One key factor that gauges the rise of PSL is the tremendous interest shown [in the PSL] by overseas players. No less than 501 entries were registered for the third season and that clearly explains the rapid growth of this popular T20 league,” Salahuddin, a former off-spinning all-rounder who played five Tests in the 1960s, pointed out.
“There are some exciting signings by the franchises. Chris Lynn may not be a familiar name here but his reputation is globally known as a destructive T20 batsman who could be the star Lahore Qalandars were looking for after finishing bottom in both editions.
“Imran Tahir, of course, is as recognisable as Yasir Shah and played a lot in Pakistan before migrating to South Africa. Multan Sultans have probably pulled off a master stroke in picking Imran given his prolific wicket-taking ability in this format.
“Two-time runners-up Quetta Gladiators have strengthened their squad by signing up [West Indies T20 captain] Carlos Brathwaite and the experienced Shane Watson. That obviously gives them a chance to go one better this time under Sarfraz Ahmed’s dynamic leadership with the experience of head coach Moin Khan to guide them,” Sallu added.
“Shahid Afridi should also make a big difference to Karachi Kings given his vast experience of T20 cricket. His power-hitting is awesome as always as indicated by his latest exploit in the BPL. He is still a force to be reckoned with despite being 37 now,” Sallu said.
“Moreover, the induction of legendary Zaheer Abbas in the PSL setup as board president of Peshawar Zalmi and inclusion of Multan Sultans as the sixth franchise are signs of better things to come. I foresee a big jump not just in the standard of play but also the overall competition.”
Salahuddin further said the joining of Multan is sure to generate great interest, particularly the franchise’s big signing of Wasim Akram as its team director and inclusion of Shoaib Malik as the skipper.
“Wasim needs no introduction, being one of the biggest names of international cricket and the greatest left-arm fast bowler to play the sport. As the team director of Islamabad United in the first two seasons, he was definitely one of the reasons behind them winning the inaugural edition last year. I’ve no doubt that Wasim will be very keen to ensure Multan make a good impression on their [PSL] debut,” he commented.
“Zaheer is also a well-known personality of international cricket who also served the game as ICC president recently. Peshawar owner Javed Afridi has already mentioned that his franchise would benefit from Zaheer as the board president. The Zalmi also have the great Younis Khan as their mentor and with Darren Sammy to lead them, the defending champions really mean business.”
Salahuddin complimented PCB chairman Najam Sethi for playing a huge role in bringing international cricket back to Pakistan and further lauded the board chief’s promise to stage the PSL final in Karachi.
“There was lot of criticism from different quarters before PSL became a reality. Credit should always be given where it is due and Sethi deserves to be acclaimed for fulfilling the promises so far. His vision of seeing Pakistan play host to international teams has come true. The visits by World XI and Sri Lanka are examples of his sincere efforts,” he remarked.
“Now the PCB chairman is adamant on holding the PSL final in Karachi because he feels people here have been deprived [of watching international matches] for a long time. The knowledgeable cricketing diehards are anxiously waiting to see top players in action once again because Karachi holds a special place in international cricket set-up.”
Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2017