The second season of the Pakistan Super League kicked off on Thursday with a grand opening ceremony at a packed Dubai International Cricket Stadium. The glitzy opening ceremony started with the national anthems of Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and hit high notes with lively performances by Jamaican singer Shaggy and Pakistani singers Shahzad Roy and Ali Zafar. The lively performances were followed by a sparkling fireworks display that lighted up the opening ceremony before the tournaments opening match between reigning champions Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi.
Speaking on the occasion Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Shahryar Khan talked about the final in Lahore. ‘The success of PSL will open the gates for others to start coming into Pakistan.’ He added that the match in Lahore is significant as it will show that Pakistan has ‘normalised’ it terms of security.
UAE culture minister Sheikh Mubarak bin Zayed al Nahyan also addressed the opening ceremony. Speaking on the occasion the Minister said that the ‘Pakistan Super League is a testimony of the strong bond between the countries.’ He also wished the best to the teams and PSL.
When the first edition of the Pakistan Super League was held last year there were serious questions marks surrounding the success of the tournament. The tournament was hastily planned and there was also a switched of host country just before the tournament but the Pakistan Cricket Board pulled it off and the tournament proved to be quite a success. The success can well gauged by the fact that the valuation of the five Pakistan Super League teams has already rocketed. It is expected that when the sixth team is added in the future editions of the tournament it will an astronomical price. The involvement of fans has also been incredible. On Friday night, the opening match of the tournament stretched well into night, it was way past midnight back in Pakistan but social networking websites were buzzing with excitement. The top ten trending topics on Twitter were all related to the Pakistan Super League. All leading channels in the country extensively covered the opening ceremony and the match. Last year it was reported that the three sports channels broadcasting the tournament in Pakistan fetched almost sixty to seventy percent of the ratings during match hours. These figures are incredible and show the tremendous commercial value of the tournament.
The tournament will also give an excellent chance for young Pakistani cricketers to showcase their talent and groom their skills further. Imagine a youngster who has only played at the domestic level in front of pretty much empty stands now playing in front of jam-packed stadiums with millions watching on television worldwide, and then you go and share a dressing room with players like Kevin Pietersen, Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum or have mentors like Wasim Akram or Viv Richards to motivate you. The Indian Premier League has resulted in massive improvement in India’s T20I and ODI teams and a similar improvement could be expected with the Pakistan Super League.
This yeas final is also expected to be held in Lahore’s Gaddafi stadium (although there are still some doubts). If the Pakistan Cricket Board can pull it off it will be a historic event for Pakistan Cricket. There has been no international cricket in Pakistan since 2009 bar the short tour of Zimbabwe. The final in Lahore could open the door for international cricket’s return to Pakistan.
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