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DUBAI: Legendary Pakistan paceman Wasim Akram wants fans to fill up the stadiums for the Pakistan Super League as action began at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Thursday with a glittering opening ceremony, followed by a high-voltage match between defending champions Islamabad United and Lahore Qalandars.

The theme ‘Maidan Sajana Hay’ has been at full swing for the last two weeks as the build-up for the PSL 4.

Wasim, arguably the greatest left-arm paceman in the history, is with Karachi Kings as their president after guiding Islamabad United to the title in the first edition in 2016. He was with Multan Sultans last year, helping a number of youngsters with his extraordinary guile and acumen.

The ex-Pakistan captain helped Rumman Raees, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Sami and Shadab Khan excel in the PSL when he was with Islamabad and then guided Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan and Mohammad Abbas while at Multan. Now he has two exciting left-armers — Mohammad Amir and Usman Khan Shinwari — at Karachi Kings who will definitely mature under his wings.

But apart from his coaching and passing tips, Wasim also realises his duty to promote the PSL which is country’s own brand and is getting better and better with every year.

He urges the fans in the UAE — mostly Pakistani expats — to fill the stadiums here in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.

“This league is ours, yours and of every Pakistani,” Wasim said. “Pakistan have made this league for Pakistani fans. All six teams are Pakistani owners.

“Whether come to the Dubai stadium or Sharjah or Abu Dhabi or for the matches in Pakistan. Whether they are watching it on television, just enjoy. This is our brand and we have to make it successful,” said the legend.

Wasim praised the efforts behind the staging of the league.

“It takes enormous effort to organise such a mega event, so from a small worker to the PCB chairman to those who are in the government to Prime Minister Imran Khan, everyone deserves a big hand but at the end of the day fans have to make this league popular.

“I am sure people will come in large numbers in matches in Pakistan. Hopefully a day will come soon when our league will be completely held in Pakistan.”

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2019