By: Shahid Hashmi
Pakistan Super League (PSL) draft ceremony for the 2nd edition was held in the football dome of the International Cricket Council academy in Dubai amidst suspense who will pick whom and the dazzling laser work with a galaxy of star players in attendance.
Five teams — Karachi Kings, Lahore Qalandars, Quetta Gladiators, Peshawar Zalmi and Islamabad United had prepared extensively for the draft, having the list of 414 players up for sale and experts of the game were there to help the franchise.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had launched the Pakistan Super League last year in an effort to unearth new talent and to burnish the existing one. The inaugural edition was not only successful in terms of competitive cricket but it also threw some talented players who either have represented Pakistan or are knocking at the doors of international cricket.
The highlight of the ceremony was the conviction with which PSL chairman Najam Sethi announced that the final of the event will be held in Lahore. He had also said this earlier but on Wednesday night he had announced it more convincingly.
“Why I am saying this with conviction is because we have talked to the players who are willing to come to Pakistan for the final,” Sethi told ARY News. “It will be a fly-in, fly-out for the teams as we have security assurance from the government of Punjab so we are confident that we will stage the final in Lahore.”
If materialised it will be a big boost for not only the PSL but for cricket in Pakistan as the country has not hosted any major international cricket barring six limited over games against minnows Zimbabwe in May last year.
The draft procedure was the same as last time but the main difference was that all five franchises have retained some players which they had to inform on their turn.
The Lahore Qalandars had announced that they will pick former New Zealand captain Brendan McCullum in the first pick. The New Zealander showed delight at getting picked and promised the fans to entertain them with his blistering stroke play, like he has done in the Indian Premier League.
Karachi Kings, like it was revealed, picked West Indian master blaster Chris Gayle which they had traded with Lahore Qalanders for Sohail Tanvir.
Gayle was at his best on the mike as well declaring “the King will be with the Kings”, and promising full entertainment to the fans.
Islamabad United, Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators retained their star players Misbah-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi and Kevin Pietersen respectively.
Lahore Qalandars picked mystery spinner Sunil Narine which was a surprise pick as Narine has not been at his best since re-modelling his bowling action.
Karachi Kings with its enterpising support staff under captain Salman Iqbal caught the best Twenty20 fish in Kieron Pollard. The lanky West Indian is a T20 specialist with a 138 runs strike rate.
Peshawar Zalmi picked England’s limited over captain Eoin Morgan while Quetta announced to retain their captain Sarfraz Ahmed.
Shane Watson, who couldn’t complete the first edition due to an injury, rejoined Islamabad United.
Lahore Qalandars retained Umer Akmal, while Shoaib Malik gets the confidence of Karachi Kings. In the last round of platinum category Peshawar Zalmi picked Wahab Riaz, Quetta Gladiators chose Ahmed Shehzad while Islamabad United settled for Andre Russell.
Over four hundred foreign and national players were divided into five categories in the draft. Top category Platinum included 28 players, diamond category 33, gold category 74, silver category 255 and emerging category included 24 players.
The second edition of the PSL will be held in UAE in February 2017.
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