Salman Iqbal, owner of the Karachi Kings and CEO of Ary Digital Network. Image Credit: K.R. Nayar/Gulf News

Dubai: Karachi Kings have a distinct advantage over their rivals thanks to them having television mogul Salman Iqbal as their owner.

As the chief executive officer of ARY Digital Network, he has ensured that everything about the team is made known to the cricket lovers around the world through his television channels.

This has increased the fan base of Karachi, who are among the favourites to win the fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL).

In an exclusive interview to Gulf News, Iqbal talked about the efforts he has put in to shape the team and also win the hearts of the cricket fans. “Karachi Kings were the first most expensive franchise in the PSL and it has been four years now,” he said.

“The PSL has shaped very well into the second largest league in the world because of the viewership and the Asian diaspora. So bigger the league gets bigger the teams get too. Karachi Kings is today one of the largest fan-based teams.”

For Iqbal, Karachi are the pulse of Pakistan. “Karachi Kings are the only franchise where people of Karachi talked cricket from day one,” he added. “The best thing about Karachi is that the city does not have only one type of population. Karachi is like a melting pot of the whole nation. You will have the Pakhtoons, Punjabis, Karachians, Sindhis and Kashmiris there. You will also have multinational followers in Pakistan and this is the advantage of Karachi.”

Iqbal being a TV mogul helped the team immensely in boosting their popularity. “Television gave a big advantage to the Karachi Kings,” he said. “It also added to the advantage of the PSL as a whole. By promoting a single team, we also promoted the whole league. So by having a TV channel in Pakistan it was easy to promote Karachi Kings and PSL.”

Iqbal, who follows cricket avidly, ensured that only the best is available for his players. The legendary pacer Wasim Akram being appointed as the president of the team was his master stroke. “I have been after Wasim Akram from day one,” said Iqbal. “Unfortunately I was always late. So Akram joined Islamabad for the first two years and third year he joined Multan Sultans. So the moment he resigned from Sultans I picked him up. So Wasim has moved to Karachi although he is from Lahore. He is one of the greatest cricketers the world has ever produced and him being in my squad as a president is very inspiring. He can be of great help for bowlers like Usman Shinwari and Mohammad Amir and all the new talents and getting him is a big achievement for us.”

Iqbal also has Pakistan’s national team coach Mickey Arthur in the fold. “Mickey is with us from day one,” said Iqbal. “In fact, Mickey joined us before he joined PCB as their international coach. So Mickey has seen the team grow. The advantage of Mickey is that he being Pakistan’s national coach knows a lot about domestic cricket so it is easy to gel with the players. Franchise cricket is very different and a coach comes in just one and half or two months before the event and he has to figure out during that period how to gel his players that hasn’t played with the Pakistan players. This is the advantage we have with Mickey.”

So in one word, what is special about Karachi Kings. “Karachi is a city of Kings and so we will play like Kings.”

Image Credit: Gulf News