Pakistan Super League 2018 November 12, 2017

A PSL draft prioritising availability over star power

Considering the World Cup qualifiers will be clashing with the T20 league, the franchises had to make a few punts

Darren Sammy dances with Pakistan players © Associated Press

We have all seen those graphics in league tables. The sides who reach the next round, and those who don't, separated by a silver line. And while Lahore Qalandars have been on the wrong end of that silver line for two years straight, it becomes a silver lining by the time the PSL draft rolls around. For the second year running, they had first pick at the draft. And for the second year running, they chose an explosive opening batsman, set to become the star attraction. Last time it was Brendon McCullum, this season it is Chris Lynn.

Lynn is one of a handful of international stars picked to play in Pakistan's increasingly ambitious T20 competition. Karachi Kings snared Mitchell Johnson, Quetta Gladiators went for Carlos Brathwaite and Peshawar Zalmi invested in Evin Lewis, ensuring a number of high-profile new faces at the PSL next season.

Multan Sultans, taking part in the glitz and chaos of T20 franchise cricket for the first time, made a number of nifty, knowledgeable picks and could well emerge as a force to be reckoned with. With an encouraging mix of Caribbean flair - three of their four foreign buys are West Indian - and home-grown talent - the likes of Shoaib Malik, Sohail Tanvir and Ahmed Shehzad - Multan seem to have hit the ground running. T20 cricket demands nothing less.

The PSL is hamstrung, to some extent, by a clash with the ICC World Cup qualifiers next March, rendering uncertain the status of several West Indian and Afghanistan players. Players such as Lewis - who would have been a possible first pick in the Platinum category - ended up being a supplementary pick for Peshawar Zalmi. Rashid Khan was the only Afghanistan player bought on the night, and even he could only made it to the supplementary list (Quetta's). There were no takers for Chris Gayle.

Franchises had to be even more judicious in prioritising availability over star power considering Australia will be in South Africa and England in New Zealand around the same time as the PSL. This led to Kolpak players and those not in contention for their countries becoming a big draw. Colin Ingram was picked by Karachi Kings in the first round, while retirement made Johnson and Luke Ronchi all the more attractive.

There was limited excitement in the way of elite Pakistan cricketers changing franchises - most of them had already been retained - but even so, it was pleasing to see several owners keeping faith in the emerging players from the previous year. The sensations of 2016 - like Hassan Khan of Quetta and Hussain Talat of Islamabad United - have another chance to shine on the big stage.

The most emotional story of the night though was Lahore Qalandars' Aaqib Javed drafting in Raza Hasan. The left-arm spinner was barely out of his teens when he played for Pakistan in the 2012 World T20, before his life spiraled out of control. Banned for two years in 2015 for cocaine use, he was spotted again by Aaqib, who said he struggled to even gain entry into Gaddafi Stadium and was reduced to playing on the streets. Aaqib had promised to get Raza's career back on track, and on Sunday, he kept his end of the bargain.

Whoever said T20 cricket couldn't tug at the heartstrings?

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

Login To Post Comments