The evergreen all-rounder is one of the most sought after cricketers in the league
The evergreen Shahid Afridi is one of the most sought after cricketers in the PSL as people come to watch him, for his sixes and boundaries and for his lively style of celebration on getting a wicket – arms-raised-fingers-pointing-towards-the-sky-feet-apart.
Arguably, it is one of the most eye-catching sights in modern day cricket, besides his towering sixes and boundaries.
The PSL in its fourth year has become a top brand and is placed among the top leagues around the world, opines Afridi.
“I think from the first year in 2016 to the fourth year, the PSL has become our brand and our identity,” said Afridi. “It is our respect. Whatever the talent is there in the Pakistan team – mostly in Twenty20s and ODIs – have been groomed in the PSL.”
Afridi rose to fame with a 37-ball hundred in a one-day international against Sri Lanka in Nairobi in 1996 – a world record then – and since has become a crowd favourite around the world. Despite retiring in 2016, Afridi has continued to play in PSL and is a crowd-puller to the core.
In a glittering career, Afridi played 27 Tests, 398 one-day internationals (Pakistan record) and 99 Twenty20 internationals and helped Pakistan win the ICC World Twenty20 2009 in England.
Such is his demand that he has played for a record number of teams around the world, including Pakistan, India, South Africa, Bangladesh, Australia, Canada and the West Indies.
Fresh from guiding Comilla Victorians to the title in the Bangladesh Premier League, Afridi is now playing for Multan Sultans after featuring for Peshawar Zalmi in the first two editions of the PSL and then representing Karachi Kings in the third.
“The leagues around the world are doing that purpose of finding talented players and then polishing their skills,” opined Afridi. “So far, so good, I would say for the PSL and since talent is coming to the fore I can say that the PSL is successful.”
Afridi urged fans to come and watch PSL in big numbers.
“I want crowds to come in big numbers and PCB must also chalk out some plans to bring more and more people to the PSL matches,” advises Afridi. “This is our league so we have to make this successful by coming to the grounds. It would be a big support for the league. It’s a big entertainment for the people, so I request people to come in big numbers. I am sure matches in Karachi and Lahore will be full-houses and we players enjoy the game when the grounds are packed.”
Afridi believes some three to four players will shine and make their mark from PSL 4.
“I can see three to four players who can come and break into the national team from this year's PSL,” said Afridi. “It’s the start so let them show more skills in tougher matches and before bigger crowds, so I could see how they do in that, then only I would be able to tell the names.”
Afridi placed PSL among the best by stating : “I think every league has its standard but overall when I speak to the players from Bangladesh, England and Australia they say that the bowling in the PSL is the best and challenging. The best part is that they get their payments well on time and that makes a league successful and respected. At this age, I wait for the PSL more than any other league.”