ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani, speaking at the Pakistan Super League (PSL) players’ draft here on Tuesday, said that he is hopeful all PSL matches will be played in Pakistan in the next two to three years as Lahore Qalandars snapped up explosive South African batsman A.B. De Villiers for a whopping sum.
De Villiers is expected to play a few matches in front of the Pakistani crowds in the upcoming fourth edition of the league which begins from February 14 next year in the UAE as the last eight matches, including the final in Karachi on March 17, slated to be held in the country.
The inaugural edition of the glitzy Twenty20 league was totally played in the UAE, the final of the second edition was played in Lahore while the last edition saw two matches in Lahore and the final in Karachi.
And Mani is hoping that the day isn’t far away that the league is totally played in Pakistan. “It’s a question of confidence of the [foreign] players,” Mani told reporters. “I hope their confidence will rise with the passage of time and I hope all PSL fixtures will be played in the country in the next two to three years.”
De Villiers was joined by veteran Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez in the Qalandars’ roster and the two platinum category signings along with those of West Indies all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite, New Zealand’s Corey Anderson and Nepali leg spinner Sandeep Lamichhane left franchise owner Fawad Rana hopeful of an upturn in fortunes with his team finishing bottom in each of the first three seasons.
“I’m optimistic for this year,” he told reporters as coach Aaqib Javed said that the team will “have a good balance”.
The Sixth team, formerly Multan Sultans, were the other big winners at the draft as they bagged the services of former Australian captain Steve Smith and ex-Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi.
They also picked England opener Joe Denly, Afghanistan leg-spinner Qais Ahmed and West Indian wicket-keeper batsman Nicolas Pooran in the gold category.
For now, the franchise is owned by the PCB until its rights are resold. “We will try to win the event,” the team’s captain Shoaib Malik told reporters. “We’re still waiting to see who takes over the franchise.”
Reigning champions Islamabad United, who have seen captain Misbah-ul-Haq depart, have picked a trio of English cricketers including Ian Bell, Samit Patel and Phil Salt.
“We will do our best to regain our title,” said United owner Ali Naqvi.
Former Pakistan skipper Misbah, who initially agreed on being United’s team mentor before changing his mind and deciding to keep on playing, will now feature for Peshawar Zalmi, who have also secured the services of hard-hitting West Indian batsman Kieron Pollard, England opener Dawid Malan and Pakistan batsman Umar Amin.
Quetta Gladiators, who had already drafted in West Indian spinner Sunil Narine, picked his compatriot Dwayne Bravo as their other platinum player.
“We hope that the league comes soon to Pakistan so the desired results for return of international cricket to the country can be seen,” Gladiators’ coach Moin Khan said.
The upcoming league will also feature Zimbabwe batsman Sikandar Raza and Australian spinner Fawad Ahmed — two players of Pakistani-origin who have played domestic cricket here but decided to play internationally for their adopted nations.
Fawad, who moved to Australia in 2010 as an asylum seeker and has played two Twenty20 Internationals, was picked up by the Gladiators while Sikandar, born in Sialkot and now a key member of the Zimbabwe squad, was snapped up by Karachi Kings.
The big signing for the Kings has come off the pitch with former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram, one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time, having joined them as president.
“We’ve got a balanced team but in Twenty20 cricket, no team can be declared as favourites,” said Wasim.
ISLAMABAD UNITED: Faheem Ashraf, Luke Ronchi, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Sami, Asif Ali, Ian Bell, Rumman Raees Khan, Samit Patel, Phil Salt, Sahibzada Farhan, Zafar Gohar, Waqas Maqsood, Hussain Talat, Cameron Delport, Mohammad Musa Khan (emerging) Nasir Nawaz (emerging), Wayne Parnell (supplementary), Zahir Khan (supplementary), Amad Butt (supplementary), Rizwan Hussain (supplementary).
PESHAWAR ZALMI: Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Kieron Pollard, Kamran Akmal, Darren Sammy, Misbah-ul-Haq, Liam Dawson, Umar Amin, Umaid Asif, Khalid Usman, Wayne Madsen, Sohaib Maqsood, Jamal Anwar, Sameen Gul (emerging), Nabi Gul (emerging), Waqar Salamkheil (supplementary), Chris Jordan (supplementary), Ibtisam Sheikh (supplementary),Samiullah (supplementary).
KARACHI KINGS: Babar Azam, Mohammad Amir, Colin Munro, Colin Ingram, Imad Wasim, Usman Khan Shinwari, Ravi Bopara, Mohammad Rizwan, Sikandar Raza, Awais Zia, Usama Mir, Aaron Summers, Sohail Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Ali Imran (emerging), Abrar Ahmed (emerging), Aamir Yamin (supplementary), Ben Dunk (supplementary), Liam Livingstone (supplementary), Jaahid Ali (supplementary).
QUETTA GLADIATORS: Sarfraz Ahmed, Sunil Narine, Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Nawaz, Rilee Roussow, Umar Akmal, Fawad Ahmed, Anwar Ali, Saud Shakeel, Mohammad Asghar, Danish Aziz, Ahsan Ali, Ghulam Mudassar (emerging), Nasim Shah (emerging), Harry Gurney ((supplementary), Ahmed Shehzad (supplementary), Azam Khan (supplementary), Jalat Khan (supplementary).
LAHORE QALANDARS: Fakhar Zaman, A.B. de Villiers, Mohammad Hafeez, Yasir Shah, Carlos Brathwaite, Corey Anderson, Anton Devcich, Rahat Ali, Sandeep Lamichhane, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Agha Salman, Sohail Akhtar, Mohammad Hassaan Khan, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Imran (emerging), Umair Masood (emerging), Brendan Taylor (supplementary), Gauhar Ali (supplementary), Aizaz Cheema (supplementary), Haris Rauf (supplementary).
SIXTH TEAM: Shoaib Malik, Steve Smith, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Joe Denly, Shan Masood, Qais Ahmad, Nicholas Pooran, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Irfan Khan, Umar Siddique, Laurie Evans, Nauman Ali, Mohammad Junaid (emerging), Mohammad Ilyas (emerging), Daniel Christian (supplementary) Tom Moores (supplementary), Ali Shafiq (supplementary), Shakeel Ansar (supplementary).
Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2018