Dubai: The fifth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) is scheduled to be held entirely in Pakistan from February 20, with no matches in the UAE where the event began in 2016. Cricket fans in UAE have a special attachment to this league, since for the last four years in a row they have had the opportunity to watch the cream of Twenty20 cricketers around the world in action. However, right from the start they were aware that their joy was not to last long given that the tournament would go back to Pakistan where it belonged, and I feel fortunate to have reported all the four editions.
Last week when BBC Urdu radio spoke to me on the reaction from fans in the UAE about them not being able to watch it happening in this country, I’d noted that it was a mixed reaction from them. Though they would have loved to witness it in front of them, they have sportingly accepted that the league should be held in Pakistan with a full stadium cheering the action.
As much as fans would love to watch their stars in action in the UAE, it is a fact that, except on public holidays, they did not turn up in large numbers. As expatriates, it is impossible for them to take leave from work and be at the ground on working days, unlike in countries like Pakistan and India where they manage it somehow.
Today if PSL is lauded as one of the well organised tournaments, I believe the UAE has contributed in a big way towards that. If not for the UAE, the event would not have taken off with such glamour with so many foreign cricketers playing in it. Facilities at all venues here are brilliant, and players have little difficulty in traveling from one venue to another. So the UAE’s role in placing PSL on the right path should be lauded.
For a reporter, being with some of the best reporters and commentators is very enriching. The tales they carry with them, and their expert opinions, expands one knowledge of the game. If not for PSL, I may not have had the opportunity to closely interact with legends like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Viv Richards in the UAE for nearly a month.
But it is unfortunate that many young cricketers failed to capitalise on the benefits of having PSL in the UAE. Except for a few academies and schools, budding youngsters were rarely exposed to the top cricketers in action. Despite the fact that youngsters can learn a lot from watching live action, they ignored this rare opportunity. While PSL is now accepted as the second best league after the Indian Premier League, one hopes that it maintains its glory with some intense contests in Pakistan too.