It is that time of the year again when normal life comes to a standstill and everybody rushes home in the evenings to watch PSL. The PSL is to Pakistan what HUMSAFAR was to Pakistan.
How a cult of Wasim Akram does not exist in Pakistan is beyond me. By now it is safe to assume that Wasim Bhai knows best and Wasim Bhai knows everything. Before the tournament even started Wasim Akram claimed the trophy for Islamabad United and it turned out to be very ominous.
Everybody loves a good underdog story. The big city franchises may have generated the most buzz, most forgettable songs and most money but it was Quetta Gladiator that really came together in the tournament as a team and quickly became everybody’s favourite – often at the expense of their own cities.
It was just heartwarming to watch a legend of the game like Viv Richards, after having achieved so much in his life, get so excited about a team that he has no natural loyalty towards.
At this point I think we only keep Wahab Riaz in the team for his feuds with batsmen. For all of its marvels the modern game has become sanitized. Gone are the days where a fight could start at any moment between a fast bowler and a batsman. Nobody really threatens to hit the bowler with his bat since Javed Miandad has retired.
Thankfully the Pakistan team still has a Hulk capable of getting angry and throwing a few choice words at the batsmen ever so often. It is even more fulfilling when it is directed towards Ahmad Shahzad.
Shahid Afridi may not justify his inclusion in the national team on merit anymore but for a nation that grew up resting their hopes on Shahid Afridi pulling off the impossible in every match it is always exciting to see the old maverick perform.
He may not set the world alight with the bat anymore but his career best 5 for 7 against Quetta Gladiators gave his fans enough ammo to justify his place for the next year in the national team.
Give Darren Sammy an honorary Pakistani citizenship already. His bromance with Shahid Afridi combined with his videos of him speaking in Urdu and Pushto made all the Pakistanis love him.
Put him in a Shalwar Kameez and make him walk the streets of Pakistan and nobody would be able to know he is not one of us. If the West Indies board does not want him anymore – we will have him in a heartbeat!
Part of the charm of PSL was discovering talent that you may not have seen play very often. Players like Imad Wasim, Imran Khan Jnr. and Mohammad Nawaz came into the national limelight.
One player that really came into his own in the PSL was Sharjeel Khan – the quintessential Pakistani opener. More interested in boundaries than rotating the strike, Sharjeel looks like a world-beater on his day but it is a pity his day comes once in every 10-20 innings.
Unfortunately for Peshawar Zalmi, his day came against them when he hit them for 117 runs off just 62 balls.
Despite knowing his history it is very hard to hate Mohammad Aamir. The talent is undeniable and you can see the perseverance and the will to win. Aamir pulled out his entire bag of tricks against Lahore Qalandar bowling for Karachi Kings.
Karachi did not have a lot to celebrate last year but Aamir’s hat trick against Lahore is something to cherish.
PSL’s popularity soared with all the tight finishes and somehow Lahore Qalandar ended up on the losing side more often than not. My pick of the lot was Mohammad Nabi guiding Quetta Gladiators to victory against Lahore Qalandar chasing a steep target of 183 in the last over.
For a few weeks the normal cynicism of a Pakistani audience was gone and everybody seemed to be enjoying watching cricket. The friendly rivalry between the cities never really escalated to a bitter level. Instead everybody was able to enjoy cricket without any tribalism or ethnic slurs spoiling the fun for anyone.
Islamabad United may not have deserved to win the inaugural PSL but Misbah-ul-Haq definitely deserved to lift the trophy. How befitting that the first PSL was won by the captain of the Pakistan cricket team. A captain who has been criticized throughout his tenure for his defensive mindedness manages to guide his local team to victory in a T20 tournament.
Misbah-ul-Haq – silencing his critics for over a decade!