Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise Peshawar Zalmi owner Javed Afridi feels that the day is not too far when all matches of the league will be held in Pakistan.
The fourth edition of PSL will commence from February 14 and conclude on March 17. The T20 tournament will span across Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi in the UAE leg, before moving to Lahore and Karachi for the concluding eight matches.
Karachi’s National Stadium will host a total of five matches, while Gaddafi Stadium Lahore will be lit up for three fixtures. The final will be held in Karachi on March 17.
“With eight matches being played in Pakistan this year, it is a clear sign that the brand is going in the right direction. PSL will be at its full potential once all the matches take place in Pakistan and that day is not very far,” Afridi said while speaking to Geo.tv.
He added, “Once this happens, we will be introduced the home-away concept that we see in football. Once teams play in their home grounds, we shall see the PSL value to quadruple.”
Afridi believes that in just three years time, PSL has emerged as one of the biggest events of Pakistan. “It has had an exponential growth which can be seen with the increase in broadcasting rights and title sponsorship for the tournament. This goes to show the potential of PSL as a brand and I believe this is just the beginning,” he further said.
He also suggested a Champions League type tournament in cricket, stating that such tournaments are crucial for the creation of a global cricket community.
“It will be beneficial for the sport,” Afridi said.
Speaking about Peshawar Zalmi, he said, the team aims to promote a softer image of Pakistan and bring international cricket back to the country.
“For us, the main thing is to create a positive impact for the people of Pakistan and provide them value. Once you deliver value, the losses will themselves turn into profits. It is a strenuous journey but I am sure that it will be worth it in the end,” he expressed.
Afridi is also hoping that future PSL matches can be held in Peshawar’s Arbab Niaz Stadium. “The renovation of the stadium has already started and we will soon be seeing matches of PSL happening there.” he shared.
Moreover, Afridi said when Zalmi qualified for the final in 2017 in Lahore, the players were quite rigid when asked to come to Pakistan. “The dugout environment was so united that all of them believed in a greater cause which is to help in returning international cricket to Pakistan.
“In PSL 4 we have picked only those players who have agreed to come and play in Pakistan since our main aim is to bring cricket home. We need to fill up our abandoned grounds and spread joy and excitement for our people,” Afridi added.
Crediting Daren Sammy for the cause and telling people that Pakistanis have made him one of their own, he said, “Sammy has left no stone unturned in returning back the love.”
Responding to a question about Zalmi’s performers in past, the KP based businessman said he was very happy to see Hassan Ali emerging from the team’s platform into one of the best bowlers in the world.
“Most of the players in the national team are products of PSL and it goes to show the positive impact the league has on Pakistan cricket, Afridi said.
And now with an aim to win the fourth edition of PSL, Afridi is also aiming to engage Zalmi with fans and make their experience, what he calls “cricketainment”.
“Along with this, we hope to play some quality cricket like we have been doing for the past three years and add another trophy to our cabinet. We will strive to bring the PSL 4 trophy back home to Peshawar,” he said.
Afridi further said Zalmi has emerged one of the most successful franchises of the PSL that has been active throughout the year by empowering the youth through conducting activities such as Zalmi Madrasa League, Zalmi School League, Zalmi 100 Pitches and Zalmi Azadi Cup.