Now in its second year, Pakistan Super League has grown since its humble and yet extremely promising 2016 debut. The official anthem has been playing all over channels in Pakistan while #AbKhelJamayGa has been trending on Twitter and here in Dubai, billboards and hoardings are eminent all over the city. While cricket has a big enough audience on its own, PSL also brings artistes from film and music onboard, raising the excitement to giddy levels, as was experienced with the buzz created at the PSL Artists’ Press Conference held at the Dubai International Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
The presser featured some pretty big names. There was Chairman PCB Najam Sethi, who broke the ice by commenting on how our Boom Boom Afridi was not to be mistaken for the Boombastic Shaggy. And there was Ramiz Raja, very excited about how advanced the technology for the tournament was. “We have some of the best technicians this time,” he said. “From a broadcasting point of view we can vouch for the best coverage ever.”
Over to entertainment, the conference boasted great names. There was Ali Zafar, the ever-charming superstar who always manages to bring everyone into his comfort zone. He sang a few lines from the PSL official anthem, much to the delight of the audience. Next to him sat Fahad Mustafa, a superstar in his own right. Sober and quiet compared to Ali, he commented on how pleased he was to be hosting the Opening Ceremony the next day.
“Cricket in Pakistan has seen some major setbacks but we’ve seen Najam Sethi and Rameez Raja bring it up with PSL. I am thrilled to host the Opening Ceremony.”
Shahzad Roy pitched in to the patriotism and optimism that PSL was creating.
“I am looking forward to the tournament,” he said. “Pakistan deserves a tournament like PSL; cricket fans in Pakistan need something like this to get excited over. The final in Lahore will prove to the world that things are improving.”
Sitting next to Shahzad Roy was internationally acclaimed superstar, Jamaican rapper Shaggy, who PSL has invited to perform at the Opening Ceremony. Shaggy commented on how happy he was to be part of the show because cricket was a national sport back in his country and he was a fan. He also spoke fondly of his friend, Chris Gayle, adding that he would be rooting for him.
The press conference made some interesting announcements, including the introduction of two ‘caps of honour’ – one maroon and one green – that would change heads and hands as they rotated between high performance players throughout the tournament.
“HBL PSL is adopting the innovations that we have seen around the world and handing out the caps is another feature that the league is introducing from this season,” Ramiz Raja explained. “Hopefully we will see some top-class performances from batsmen and bowlers who would be vying for the cap. The maroon and the green caps will be handed to the highest wicket taker and the highest runs scorer respectively throughout the course of the tournament. The bowler with the most wickets in the tournament will wear the maroon cap, while the batsman who has the highest number of runs to his credit will flaunt the green cap. It will be interesting to see how much the two caps change possession.”
A cricket bat and PSL poster, which the entire panel of celebs autographed, were announced for auction; the proceeds would go to the Edhi Foundation.
The press conference did set the ball rolling for this buzzing stage of ‘cricketainment’ and many more celebrities are expected to fly in from Pakistan for the Opening Ceremony, which promises to be a sparkling affair. Let the games begin!
- This story was first published in Instep on Feb 10, 2017