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Comment: Karachi Kings — the PSL franchise hated by many of its own

Updated March 17, 2018

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The Kings, wittingly or unwittingly, have accumulated a raft of polarising figures whom some love to love, but others love to hate. —photo courtesy KK Facebook page
The Kings, wittingly or unwittingly, have accumulated a raft of polarising figures whom some love to love, but others love to hate. —photo courtesy KK Facebook page
Not uncommon for Karachiites to root for other franchises and wish catastrophes of Qalandarian magnitude on the Kings. —PSL
Not uncommon for Karachiites to root for other franchises and wish catastrophes of Qalandarian magnitude on the Kings. —PSL
The cherry on top seems to be the needless braggadocio in the Kings' theme song. —photo courtesy KK Facebook page
The cherry on top seems to be the needless braggadocio in the Kings' theme song. —photo courtesy KK Facebook page

Business gurus will tell you that the basic prerequisite for any business, any new venture is the buyer. Product is secondary, and can be conjured in more ways than one as long as the buyers and their demand exist.

It is this guarantee of ready-made demand that makes sports franchises the world over attach the names of countries with their leagues and cities with their franchises.

A so and so premier league appeals to no one; but attach 'Indian' to the name, and more than two billion ears perk up at once. There's your demand before the product has even taken shape.

In the same way, the meaningless Knicks, when attached to New York, have the attention of the financial capital of the world.

The practice arouses instant curiosity, creates instant demand, and you can't go wrong with it. Which brings us to the matter at hand: the Karachi Kings.

Wondering what has this preamble on franchising, their nomenclature and basic economics got to do with the Kings?

You see, another of the many wonders of sports franchising is that every team starts with a clean slate. On day one, at least, no franchise has disgruntled fans. In the years to come, franchises do attract critics and alienate their own with either (or both) failure or misconduct — but certainly not on the day of their inception.

This is where the Karachi Kings seem to have made history.

They came into being on December 3, 2015 when the Pakistan Cricket Board sold the Karachi franchise to the ARY Group.

Since their debut, however, the team hasn't been able to sell itself to Karachiites completely. It is not at all uncommon for a Karachi born-and-bred to not just openly root for other Pakistan Super League franchises, but also wish catastrophes of Qalandarian magnitude on the Kings.

Ranging from "I just want anyone not named Karachi Kings to win", to "I want Quetta — the real Karachi side — to win", to some absolutely unpublishable obscenities — a surprising number of Karachiites seem to have a very uncharitable opinion of the cricket team that — on paper at least — is supposed to represent them.

Even those of the port city's inhabitants who otherwise eagerly own everything Karachi — even the sweet drawl that turns Pepsi into "Paipsi" — seem to have trouble warming up to the Kings.

For a nascent three-year-old franchise that, on the results front, may have underwhelmed but not disgraced itself a la, let's say, Lahore, these are shocking opinions for its own fans to harbour.

In contrast, you will find Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta and Multan fans steadfastly supporting their teams. Even the Lahore fans, whose franchise has become the laughing stock after completing a hat-trick of bottom-of-the-table finishes, haven't yet retracted their support for their team.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out what's 'different' about the Kings. If they're loathed by a section of their city, there is certainly some reason to the madness.

The Kings, wittingly or unwittingly, have accumulated a raft of polarising figures whom some love to love, but others love to hate. Their owner is a media mogul with an unabashed political alignment; their shirt sponsor is a controversial construction tycoon; their captain is a Welsh-born utility player; and their pace spearhead is an ex-con.

This year, they added a guy who often promises 'Boom Boom' but mostly goes 'Ba Dum Tiss'.

Also, the kits they wear are blue — a colour that, in the cricketing world, is more frequently associated with the national team's arch-rivals.

Afridi in a blue Karachi shirt — PSL
Afridi in a blue Karachi shirt — PSL

The cherry on top seems to be the needless braggadocio in the Kings' theme song. Where other teams went for pumped-up tunes highlighting local culture, Karachi's 2018 track warned rivals "na bharam day pitch pay" (don't get cocky with us on the pitch), and the umpires: "appeal ko jo na manay ga dharna de ker manwa lenge" (those who won't accept our appeal will be made to accept through sit-ins).

What more could you possibly need.

These are all little things, but during the course of the campaign and a franchise's life, they add up. And they have certainly added up in Karachi's case.

Of course, the sheer size of the city means the Kings' support will drown out the comparatively smaller opposition. And if they end up winning PSL 2018, the murmurs will die out even more. The flaws in their composition and ethos, however, will remain — and for that they will remain what is arguably the most hated franchise of the PSL.