Forward bloc in PSL?

With the fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League just five weeks away, the name of the sixth team has finally been announced. The owner, Ali Khan Tareen, confirmed that ‘Multan Sultans’ would be retained, confirming that the change in name that junior Tareen delivered is about as effective as the change the senior Tareen is orchestrating at the de facto helm of the incumbent government.

Indeed, retaining the name Multan Sultans saves a lot of time and energy – since money isn’t a problem at hand – related to franchising and marketing. The same social media accounts, and the team, can be continued as well, of course, which is already working on overdrive.

Even so, one can’t help but think that the owners might have considered relocating the team to their NA-161 – formerly NA-154 – constituency in Lodhran. Ideally they would’ve wanted the team to be named Sadiqs & Amins, which epitomises not just the ethos that they would want to incorporate within the squad, but also the success story of the Tareens.

The Sadiqs & Amins name would ensure that unlike the original Multan franchise, the new team would never be disqualified. There could’ve been a petition submitted in the Supreme Court if the side were knocked out in the playoffs or group stages of the PSL – because you just can’t do that to Sadiqs & Amins. This is notwithstanding, of course, the slight possibility that things might be different after January 17.

Even though the draft for PSL 4 is already finalised, Ali Tareen would hopeful that his team would be able to bag a few selectables via defection from other PSL franchises. He expressed as much on Sunday when in reply to a welcome tweet from Islamabad United, Tareen said: “Can we get @76Shadabkhan as a welcome present? #21stplayer”

Will the Tareens create a forward bloc in the PSL just before the tournament? The rules don’t allow team changes just before the tournament, but such regulations can always be manipulated. In addition to the forward bloc, the Platinum and Diamond category players can be disqualified, for instance. 

It is fitting that Tareen seems to be starting with a star of Islamabad United – the defending champions, the two time winners, and perhaps favourites to retain their title. The veteran captain, the mastermind, the talisman, of Islamabad United Misbah-ul-Haq has already joined Peshawar Zalmi. Meanwhile, Multan Sultans will have Shahid Afridi, who is more daring, more flamboyant and more handsome than anyone else. 

Therefore, it would be understandable if the other PSL five franchises launch an official request for independent international observers for the league. Such a request might be hard to entertain, because the game already has neutral umpires, but umpires and their neutrality can be commodified for the greater good.

One greater good would be to break the duopoly of Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi – who have won the three PSL titles between them and also contested last year’s final – along with their taking of turns and being friendly oppositions to each other through muk mukas. We’ve already tried those two and hence a new franchise should be given the chance to rule Pakistan. 

Another greater good would be that having replaced a disqualified team, the Tareens’ franchise would help create a better system of accountability. This would help curtail the spot-fixing cases that have marred the PSL, most of which, of course, originated from the players of Islamabad United.

But perhaps the greatest good here would be that with the Tareens at the helm, one can guarantee that flying in international cricketers to Pakistan won’t be a problem. Hence, in this regard, the Pakistan Cricket Board would be best advised to take pointers from the Election Commission of Pakistan.


The writer is a Lahore-based


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