Pakistan Super Leagues ability to inspire and entertain in equal measure has been it's forte since it's inception in 2016 - The 2021 season, in that sense did no different writes Shehryar Nayyer
By Shehryar Nayyer (27th June, 2021)
A sporting event which has become a household name in Pakistan and over the years has drawn a lot of global following as well, just completed its 6th edition with the Multan Sultans lifting the trophy for the first time. The journey with the global pandemic around wasn't smooth by any means, and resulted in the tournament to be completed in two halves with one taking place in Karachi and other in the heat of Abu Dhabi. However, after overcoming all the difficulties the tournament lived up to its brand and reputation.
From the elation and excitement of seeing young emerging players like Shahnawaz Dahani and Mohammad Wasim Jr building their name and reputation at such a platform to discarded Pakistani players like Sohaib Maqsood on their expedition to prove their metal again, PSL 6 had it all.
An often overlooked aspect of PSL is the opportunity it provides to some young and emerging foreign players and that side of the tournament was further amplified in this edition's 2nd leg in Abu Dhabi due to some inspiring picks by the franchises when some of the originally selected foreign players weren't available for their respective sides. From young Zimbabwean pacer in the form of Blessing Muzarabani who got noticed after getting Pakistan's national captain out 4 times in international games across the formats times in the space of a month or so, to Singaporean cricketer Tim David known for his hitting ability in the Big Bash, quite a few such players turned to be fantastic choices for their sides.Over the course of the tournament presence of some of the biggest T20 stars in the world like Chris Gayle, Rashid Khan, David Miller, Martin Guptill, Faf du Plessis, Collin Munro, Alex Hales, Chris Lynn, Dale Steyn and others added further star power to the extravaganza that is the PSL.On the other hand commentary panel of PSL edition 6 witnessed debuts of Legendary David Gowar, Simon Doull, Pommie Mbangwa, J.P Duminy and Sana Mir who all had their fair share of moments in adding to the feel of the matches and tournament as a whole. Umpiring panel was decent and Aleem Dar with some brilliant decisions showed his class once again however, on occasions there were some bad errors by other umpires and on some instances the 3rd umpire took more time than fans probably wanted in T20 format which is a much more fast paced the any other format.Off the field side of things sometimes had good and sometimes an indifferent feel to them. PSL anthem is something which has become part of the PSL routine every year and it is something which fans eagerly wait for anticipating interesting mix of artistes along with it being the first signal to the start of new PSL season. This year was no different with the anthem "Groove Mera" which was able to garner a good social media reaction within just few days however, it had to face a lot of initial criticism from the fans but, many would say it did its job in terms of creating the hype before PSL, one way or another.Opening ceremony of PSL 6 due to pandemic was arranged in Turkey only to be recorded and aired before the first match which did have some good stars but, raised a few questions with regards to it taking place in Turkey only to be aired in the recorded form for the viewers. Off field marketing gimmicks which were a topic of discussion last year as well were toned down a bit possibly due to pandemic. Some of these gimmicks might be fine from creativity point of view but, they definitely form mixed opinions from general public. While "Hamare Heroes" which was launched in PSL 5 is another marketed segment but, its concept of recognizing high performing individuals from different fields who were able to get recognition for themselves and Pakistan at any world stage, the ones contributing to the betterment of the society with different projects or the ones who achieved things against all the odds overcoming any handicap is definitely a praiseworthy initiative.Overall the broadcast and production in the first half of Karachi was decent, yes there was still room for improvement but, things looked to be going in a better direction which is a good sign. On the other hand when it came to Abu Dhabi, the start as expected with all the sudden arrangements had some glitches in terms of graphics, commentary and artificial crowd noise however, as the second half progressed there was a definite improvement. Overall , the broadcast coverage of the PSL 6 was pretty decent and provided options in one form or another to all the cricket fans around the world. Pre-match and pro-match segments for Pakistani audience were good and did a reasonable job in building up the matches and giving them the final touch.Overall apart from the hiccups caused in the first half due to pandemic and possible mismanagement of the situation, things generally lived up to the quality people have started to expect from PSL. Initial hype and marketing was decent and the draft was carried out as smoothly as ever despite the pandemic. Opening ceremony left quite a lot to be desired and fans would expect improvements in next edition. Cricket was exciting with a lot of thrilling matches and inspiring players including the local and foreign cricket veterans as well as new entrants to the world of cricket. Off field gimmicks were toned down a bit but, fans need to realize they are most likely here to stay as after all sponsorships, marketed segments and brand endorsements are a major source of revenue. However, one would expect better creativity and thinking behind some such segments.