Here we bring a bird’s eye view of the HBL PSL 2017 as its new season is just around the corner.
It is not too early to get excited about the new season of the PSL. With merely a few weeks left before the first ball is scheduled to be bowled, momentum is slowly building up as the United Arab Emirates gears up to host the premiere Twenty-20 cricket league from Pakistan for the second time.
Pakistan Super League chairman Najam Sethi, in a candid conversation, said, “he is “confident” that the second season of the PSL will be a bigger success for both the league as well as the franchises. Pakistan’s most anticipated cricketing event of the year will have a lot more to offer to the fans regarding good cricket as well as the inseparable glamor quotient from the shortest format of the game”.
PSL 2017 Draft
Earlier, the draft of PSL 2017, which was also held in Dubai, had attracted top international cricketing stars and the league found itself with over a hundred-player pool increment from its previous edition. Big names threw themselves in and as expected, attracted immediate interest from the franchises.
PSL 2017 season players from England
English imports, both the new signings as well as retained players, formed a significant part of the players’ pool with the most prominent new signing being that of England’s shortest format captain Eoin Morgan who went to Peshawar Zalmi. Other Englishmen who joined their limited overs skipper include Chris Jordan, Alex Hales, David Willey and the explosive, fast bowler Tymal Mills as new signings, while one of the biggest crowd pleasers KevinPietersen alongside Ravi Bopara, Luke Wright, and Sam Billings will be featuring in the PSL again for their respective teams.
Australian Cricketers in PSL 2017
The pace duo of Australia Shaun Tait, who was a late inclusion (Supplementary), and Shane Watson will be returning to the PSL and keep them company will be another one of Australia’s extraordinaire, the wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin.
Brendon McCullum, the only man, flaunting two thousand plus T20 runs yet, is another massive new addition to the PSL stage who is all set to lead the Lahore Qalandars squad, where he’ll be joined by his other Kiwi mates Grant Elliott and Anton Devcich.
Winners of the ICC 2016 World T20 championship and the immensely popular West Indian cricketers, continue to dominate various Twenty-20 leagues across the globe and the PSL is no different. The ultimate showman of T-20 cricket Chris Gayle returns to the PSL for the second time in a row, but this time he will be donning the blue jersey as Lahore Qalandars carried out what is perhaps the biggest and the boldest trade-off of the season with the Karachi Kings. The result was the transfer of mighty Gayle from the Qalandar clan to the Karachi side, while the Qalandars gained another one of a T-20 genius, SohailTanvir.
West Indian players in PSL 2017
Others who’ll be joining in the party from the Caribbean includes Kieron Pollard- the blaster who is in advance game-mode driving the ball outside parks and claiming ridiculous catches at the recent Big Bash League of Cricket Australia. The West Indian T-20 captain Carlos Brathwaite who has recently won the “ICC T-20I Performance of the Year” award and two-time T-20 World Cup winning captain Darren Sammy who will now lead the Peshawar Zalmi side succeeding Shahid Afridi. Andre Russell, arguably the most genuine T-20 all-rounder with the potential of casting spells with both the white ball as well as his latest black beauty (bat) will be joined by Samuel Badree, Rovman Powell, Sunil Narine and Dwayne (DJ) Bravo, who is also likely to perform his popular “Champion” song at the opening ceremony of the HBL Pakistan Super League 2017.
Sri Lankan Players in PSL 2017
Kumar Sangakkara will return to the PSL, this time to lead the Karachi side, and joining him will be another Sri Lankan legend Mahela Jayawardene. Across from Bangladesh, Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal will add strength to the Zalmi side, whileAfghanistan star Muhammad Nabi, who had a decent first stint with the Gladiators will once again pull on a purple jersey.
Pakistani Cricketers in Second Season of PSL
Almost all the big, as well as the emerging names from Pakistan have made it to the second season of the PSL including the likes of ShahidAfridi, MisbahUlHaq, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik, WahabRiaz, Muhammad Hafeez, SohailTanvir, Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal, ImadWasim, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Asghar, Khushdil Shah, SaifBadar, Usama Mir, AmadAlam, Amad Butt, Shadab Khan, Zohaib Khan, etc.
Unpicked Players of PSL 2017
Though the Pakistani, as well as the international new picks and retentions, make for a rather impressive player line-up, there are a few shocking left-outs that surround the upcoming season. The most talked about one is perhaps that of the controversial duo of Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, both of whom were included in the draft but remained unpicked. While some may have foreseen this happening, others thought it to be a bit appalling especially since Salman Butt has been performing rather decently in first-class and was the second highest run-scorer in a recent national T-20 tournament. Tabish Khan, Mohammad Abbas and SadafHussain, bowlers playing consistently well within the domestic circuit of Pakistan cricket, were all once again overlooked, even despite a franchise owner hinting last season that they would make sure the local performers don’t go unheeded and promised to keep a “close eye” on their performance throughout the year.
EhsanAdil was also dropped by Lahore Qalandars, despite claiming 4 wickets in a crucial match for the franchise last season, while Aizaz Cheema too failed to retain his spot with the Quetta Gladiators, having played a vital role in the team’s semi-final win against Peshawar Zalmi where he claimed two consecutive wickets in the last over when just four runs were needed on four deliveries. Bilal Asif, another all-rounder who was considered very promising by many not long ago, was also not picked by any franchise possibly because an injury had kept him in the dugout the whole of the last PSL.
New About PSL 2017 Season
While many key new player signings have already added the spark to the upcoming season of the PSL, some notable coaches and mentors have also been included to uplift the league campaign further. Topping this list is Younis Khan, who went unpicked by any franchise last season. However this time, Peshawar Zalmi has roped in the Pakistani batting great and have given him the duties of Mentor and Batting Coach. Abdul Razzak, who has been missing from Pakistan cricketing scenes for a while now, will be joining in the Quetta Gladiators as Assistant and Bowling coach. Earlier, the Lahore Qalandarsannounced AaqibJaved as their Director of Cricket Operations, while Mudassar Nazar was named their Icon and Mentor.
— Islamabad United (@IsbUnited) December 27, 2016
Islamabad United further upped their glamor game by signing the young singing sensation MominaMustehsan as their Empowerment Champion, while Peshawar Zalmi got Muhammad Waseem, the WBC Silver Flyweight Champion on board as their Ambassador.
Would Justin Beiber Perform in PSL 2017 Season?
With just a few weeks to go before the second season outsets, rumor-mill has been in overdrive, predominantly regarding the opening ceremony. First, there were rumors that Justin Bieber had been approached by the Pakistan Cricket Board and that the Vivo “Top Artist of the Year 2016” would be performing live at the opening night of the PSL 2017. However, these rumors were said to be “false” in a tweet from the official PSL handle.
Opening of #HBLPSL 2017 is set to be bigger & better. However, news reports of a certain international pop star set to perform are false.
— PakistanSuperLeague (@thePSLt20) December 11, 2016
Next up was a claim made by a local journalist who said that the American singer/rapper Flo Rida would be the main act on the opening night. Officials at the PCB have confirmed that the opening ceremony is set to be “bigger and better” and a star-studded affair, but have denied any such claims made by the local press. The opening night is likely to feature Ali Zafar, the man behind both of the PSL anthems, who will perform the latest “AbKhelJamayGa” (PSL 2 song), along with some of his all-time hits, live. The “Champion” DJ Bravo will also be seen in action at the opening ceremony and is sure to get some of our cricketing favorites to shake a leg with him. A specular fireworks display, beloved exciting cultural performances along with an airborne top-act by the flying drummers is sure to enthrall the audiences at the inaugural night, which will be followed by the opening match of the season, where the reigning champions Islamabad United will take on the cfavoritePeshawar Zalmi.
PSL 2017 Final in Pakistan
But what is possibly the biggest and the most positive news coming out of the PSL 2017 is that the final of the competition may be staged in Pakistan. Officials from the PSL headquarters have confirmed that preparations are underway to carry out a “fly in, fly out plan”. Maintenance and renovation work at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore are in full swing, and a new media/VIP enclosure is just about ready to host a world-class match. Assurances from the government in terms of providing fool-proof security have also poured in, and a standby pool of foreign players has been prepared in case anyone from the two final teams back out last minute.
— Islamabad United (@IsbUnited) January 1, 2017
The PCB and PSL officials are confident that the decider of the tournament will be held on home-soil, unless another unfortunate chain of events lead to the contingency plan being rolled in.
A tough competition between PSL Franchises
All the five franchisees are confident about their team selection with each feeling they now possess a stronger team. Now that all the five franchisees have already announced themselves and established aconnect with the fans, team rivalries are likely to be massive this season. Winners of the first PSL, Islamabad United, who have retained more or less the same team consider themselves even stronger but will the revamped Lahore Qalandars give them sturdy competition? Could Darren Sammy pull a repeat to his WT20 campaignand lead his Afridi-rich side towards victory, or will Kumar Sangakkara, fresh from his Bangladesh Premiere League (BPL) win, lead the Karachi Kings side, who many argue is the strongest on paper this time, in finally tasting triumph after a forgetful first season. Or who knows, the “underdogs” Quetta Gladiators, who had it close last season, may just turn out victorious this time. Does another surprise await the fans this season, we can’t wait to find out!