Tuesday, February 9, 2016

So who are you supporting in the Pakistan Super League?

The Pakistan Super League, the most recent entrant to the plethora of domestic T20 leagues, is finally here. Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, and Quetta are taking part in the inaugural PSL, which is taking place in Dubai and Sharjah.

So which PSL team are you supporting?

The answer should be quite simple, shouldn’t it?

You should be supporting your hometown!

But it really isn’t that simple.

Besides the team names, there isn’t much else that associates the teams with the cities.

Karachi is being captained by a Sialkoti who has spent the past decade leading the Sialkot Stallions to title after title in the domestic T20 competitions; while Islamabad is being led by a Faisalabadi who has spent his lifetime in domestic cricket captaining his hometown. Quetta’s captain is a born and bred Karachi-ite. Peshawar seem to have got it right by appointing a Pathan as their leader, but is he really a Pathan considering he lives in Karachi and has been captaining Karachi for over a decade now? Only Lahore have got it right with their captain being a true blue Lahori boy.

So how do you support your hometown when the men leading the teams are not even from your hometown?

Even the composition of the squads does not represent the respective cities.

Karachi’s batting line up comprises of a West Indian (Simmons), a Bangladeshi (Shakib), two Englishmen (Vince and Bopara), and two Sialkotis (Malik and Nauman). Their bowling attack is being led by a Punjabi boy (Aamer) with ample support from two Pindi Boys (Imad and Tanvir). The only thing Karachi about the Kings is their wicketkeeper, the relatively unknown, Saifiullah Bangash.

Islamabad United are made up of Karachi-ites (Sherjeel, Khalid Latif, Sami, Ashar Zaidi) and Punjabis (Babar, Imran Khalid, Irfan, Rumman Raees). Not to mention the few West Indians (Russel and Badree), the Aussie (Watson), and the English wicketkeeper (Sam Billings). To add further taste to the team, there is another born and bred Faisalabadi, Misbah’s trusted comrade Saeed Ajmal. The only think Islamabadi about the team is the one and only Umar Amin; well not really considering he is a Pindi boy!

Quetta Gladiators’ batting is dominated by a Lahori boy (Shehzad) and two Englishmen (Pietersen and Wright). Their spinners, Nawaz and Babar, are from Rawal Pindi and Okara respectively; while their pacer is from Peshawar (Gul). There is a Zimbawean (Chigumbura) and an Afghani (Nabi) in the mix as well. There is absolutely nothing Quetta about the Gladiators! Even the owner is a Karachi-ite!

The Zalmis’ top order contains a player from Sargodha who has opened for and captained Faisalabad for majority of his career (Hafeez), a Bangladeshi (Tamim), an Englishman (Malan), and a Lahori (Kamran Akmal). However, the Zalmis have found some identity in their bowling attack through Junaid Khan and the man with the Pathan-like-big-hands Asghar. Supporting them is a Lahori boy, Wahab.

Lahore Qalandars is the only team that can truly stake claim to being a true city team! After all Lahore Lahore Hai… Their captain, Azhar Ali, is from Lahore. Their key batsman, Umar Akmal, is from Lahore. Their premier spinner, Zafar Gohar, is from Lahore. The Punjabi boys, Hammad Azam, Naveed Yasin, and Adnan Rasool, also sort of represent Lahore. Add to the mix a Multani (Sohaib), two pathans (Rizwan and Zohaib), a West Indian (Gayle), and a South African (Delport) and you have the Qalandars, a team that pretty much lives up to its name. But it all goes for a toss when you realize that the owner is a petrochemical firm based in Qatar.

So can you really support a team from your home town just because it is named after your city? Probably the Lahoris can. Maybe the Pathans too. But for the rest, I don’t think so.

I’ve lived in the UAE pretty much my entire life. I do have associations with Pakistani cities like Rawal Pindi, where I was born; Lahore, where I went to University for 4 years; and Karachi, where I got married to a girl born and raised in Karachi. But I am not supporting any of those teams.

I am supporting Peshawar just because I am a huge supporter of Shahid Afridi!

After watching the Gladiators dominate the first few days of the league, I have started supporting them too, just because of the sort of cricket they are playing.

So out of the 5 teams playing in the PSL, my support is with the two Pakistani cities that I have never been to!

Isn’t it easier to support a team that contains your favorite players? A KP fan should be supporting Quetta, while a Gayle fan should be supporting Lahore. Should it not work that way?

I never get why such leagues play with the fans minds by naming teams after cities when the players in those teams don’t represent those cities. Know what I mean?

It happens in the IPL as well! It happens in the football leagues around the world too!

So what is this fascination with city based team names? Why can’t the teams be named more imaginatively. The Gladiators or The Kings should suffice; why associate those with Quetta or Karachi?

It would make sense if the teams represented the cities in some way, like they do in the domestic T20 competitions but rarely in the T20 leagues around the world.

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