Unless it is played in Pakistan in front of home crowds, the PSL cannot be a gamechanger for Pak cricket. © Getty Images.
Unless it is played in Pakistan in front of home crowds, the PSL cannot be a gamechanger for Pak cricket. © Getty Images.

The first edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) has reached the business end, with Quetta Gladiators (QG) and Islamabad United (IU) making it to the final. The league, which had been in the pipeline since 2009, finally became a reality in 2016. It opened with a lot of razzmatazz; top Pakistan and select international players in attendance, a flashy opening ceremony and a promise of 20 days of action-packed cricket. However, with the end nearing now, the league which was touted as panacea to Pakistan’s cricketing woes has not quite set the stage on fire. Chinmay Jawalekar lists down five reasons that explain it better: Live Cricket Scorecard: Islamabad United vs Quetta Gladiators, PSL 2016 Final.

1) Just another league: There is a thumb-rule; Anything India do has to be emulated by Pakistan. So when India came up with the Indian Premier League (IPL), Pakistan could not have waited for long to come up with their own version. And finally, when after years of planning and postponing they managed to come up with PSL, the end product failed to live up to the expectations. Instead of creating a new league with a distinct identity and USP, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) ended up launching yet another banal Twenty20 (T20) league in a calendar cluttered with similar ones. READ: Wahab Riaz, Ahmed Shehzad spat in PSL 2016: Riaz requests Pakistan youth not to take inspiration.

2) Flawed format: The most disappointing part of the PSL has been its format, where four teams out of the total five would progress to the playoffs. This pattern almost made the entire exercise of holding group stage matches pointless. It also robbed the league off its competitiveness, as all a team needed to do was to avoid coming last. This huge flaw in the format left the teams not so motivated and took the pace off the league, whose format predominantly is fast. The league certainly needs to do away with this format to have a bright future.

3) No home advantage: The league had Pakistan in its name and Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and Islamabad as its franchises. But sadly, it all remained only on the paper, as it was being played outside the terror-torn country. The spirit of Pakistan was nowhere in the league. As hard as it tried, the PCB could not create a PSL in Dubai and Sharjah. The franchises did not have any local support and that killed the entire idea of having city-based franchises. Even an entire season of IPL was played in South Africa once, but that was a temporary arrangement. Here, there is not even a remotest of possibility that the PSL will be played in Pakistan in near future. READ: PSL is a means to keep the game afloat in hearts of Pakistani supporters.

4) Unsustainable model: For any league to sustain, it got to have a robust financial model. The very reason the PSL kept getting postponed was lack of sponsors. Finally, the PCB did get some on board and manage to stage the first season. But with dwindling crowds (barring the Fridays), it is difficult to say till how long the sponsors will stick to the league. To create a sustainable model, the PSL needs to be played in Pakistan, where there will be packed stadiums, greater viewership and of course, financial stability.

5) Can’t end Pakistan’s isolation: The biggest tragedy with the PSL is the unfair expectations people have from it. By no means can the PSL end Pakistan’s cricketing isolation, and people need to understand this. The security concerns players and boards have regarding touring the country remain the same. Buoyed by its first season, the PCB is mulling organizing few matches of PSL’s second season in Pakistan which though being a right move, remains an overambitious dream. Till the time security situation in Pakistan does not improve, this will not become a reality. And for that, PCB cannot do anything unless the government steps in.

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricLife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)