|Pakistan Team Celebrating Champions Trophy 2017 Victory|
Pakistan Team's Defiance:
The Pakistan team that barely made the cut to play in Champions Trophy as the 8th ranked team lost its very first match against arch-rival India by 124 runs in group B on June 4, 2017. Subsequently, the team to went on to defeat top ranked South Africa, 4th ranked England and 7th ranked Sri Lanka to reach the trophy's final match against India.
Often described as "predictably unpredictable", Pakistan XI bounced back strongly after being written off by most commentators and pundits. They demonstrated the resilience that also characterizes the people and the state of Pakistan both of which are often given the "failed" tag by Indian and western media.
There are many factors that are believed to have contributed to Pakistan's spectacular rise to the world champion status in international cricket. The team captain Sarfaraz Ahmad is not only a good leader but also a very good batsman-wicket keeper who keeps his cool under pressure. The return of aggressive paceman Mohammad Amir to the team after a long suspension for match-fixing has bolstered Pakistan's bowling attack. But, most of all, I believe it is the discovery and grooming of new talent in Pakistan Super League.
Pakistan Super League:
Pakistan Super League (PSL) is a T20 cricket league with 6 franchise teams-- one each in the cities of Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and Multan. Multan franchise was just recently sold by PSL to the Schon Group for $41.6 million over 8 years. PSL generates millions of dollars in PCB income that helps promote cricket in the country. It also exposes new talent that would otherwise remain hidden.
Several youngsters in Pakistan side who shined in the recent Champions Trophy matches were selected after they played and performed well in PSL 2, the league's second season earlier this year. For example Fakhar Zaman (Lahore Qalandars), Hassan Ali (Peshawar Zalmi), Shadab Khan (Islamabad United), Rumman Raees (Islamabad United).
Opener Fakhar Zaman gave Pakistan the rapid start it needed with the runs that built the foundation for other batsmen down the line to capitalize on; Mohammad Amir struck early with quick top order wickets and then Hassan Ali and Shadab Khan kept up the pressure with their aggressive bowling. These youngsters also energized the rest of the team, particularly the more senior low-performing players, to do better.
Credit to Najam Sethi:
PSL chairman Najam Sethi has played a crucial role in setting up the PSL that is giving young talent an opportunity to play with the best of international players and be discovered. It's a platform that highlights Pakistan's young talent that can simply not be ignored by the Pakistan national team selectors.
Sethi can also be credited with bringing Mohammad Amir back into Pakistan team in the face of significant opposition by senior players, both former and current.
New players emerging from PSL and the return of players like Mohammad Amir have significantly strengthened Pakistan side as witnessed by their historic win against higher-ranked teams, including India, in Champions Trophy 2017 held in the United Kingdom. PSL is also generating the needed revenue to promote cricket at the grassroots level. PSL, if used properly, can help Pakistan become a more powerful professional side using the best available talent in the country.