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UAE should not just be a surrogate cricket venue

Expat fans have made both PSL and IPL successful and deserve to get more

Gulf News

For the second time, the UAE has staged the Pakistan Super League (PSL) with flying colours.

Once again, it was the cricket fans of the UAE who came out winners when every seat in the Dubai International Stadium was occupied on Friday to witness the last play-off match between Peshawar Zalmi and Karachi Kings.

Though the PSL organisers decided to host the final at Lahore for their home fans, it has been their fellow countrymen from the UAE who had thronged the Sharjah and Dubai stadiums to cheers for the teams from their cities.

The beauty of staging PSL matches here is that not only do fans from Pakistan turn up for the matches but also cricket lovers from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

It was another opportunity for the Sri Lankans to watch their legendary batsman Kumar Sangakkara in action. Even at the age of 39, he displayed his agility as a wicketkeeper and played some good knocks.

It is unfortunate that the Indian cricket board does not permit its players to play in this tournament.

By doing so, they are in no way pulling PSL’s glory down but only denying the ardent Indian cricket fans here to watch their heroes in action.

Cricketers from any team should not be denied the opportunity to play in a league, and never should any league — be it PSL, Big Bash or Bangladesh Premier League — be considered a tournament meant only for that particular country.

Look at the way Darren Sammy captained the Peshawar team.

He seemed upset when he lost matches, just like he was when West Indies lost under his captaincy; and totally thrilled when Peshawar won their way into the final.

The higher the success rate for the Twenty20 leagues in the world, more beneficial will it be for cricketers as well as the game as a whole.

If any cricketer is forced to stay away from a particular league because he is not cleared by his board, it’s nothing but myopic thinking on the board’s part.

If Pakistan cricketers were permitted to play in the IPL and if Indian cricketers too played in the PSL, the game would have benefited on the whole.

The Indian cricket board should consider hosting a few IPL matches in the UAE since this country had successfully staged it’s first leg in 2014. While this will mainly benefit Indian fans in the UAE, it will also attract other fans from the subcontinent. If PSL is likely to be held in Pakistan regularly, UAE should still be considered to host a few of their matches here. The emirate should not be considered just as a surrogate cricket venue to meet their short-term requirements.