Pakistan legend Akram dreams of seeing Indians playing in PSL
The inaugural HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) has hit the ground running with a glitzy Bollywood-style opening ceremony in Dubai, frenzied cricket fans and heart-stopping action.
After five matches, Quetta Gladiators which has West Indian legend Sir Vivian Richards as its mentor top the table on net run rate though Afridi-led Peshawar Zalmi also have four points with two wins under their belt.
It is still early days for Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) ambitious money-spinning venture which has attracted some of the world's best players including Chris Gayle, Kevin Pietersen and Shane Watson.
Featuring 69 local and 29 foreign stars, the five-team, 24-match league will run until February 23 across two stadiums in Sharjah and Dubai.
The teams were sold to private consortiums for a sum of $93 million across 10 years, with $200,000 salaries for top-tier players and relatively handsome paydays for middle-tier and emerging talent.
The winning side, meanwhile, will bring home $1 million and The Shooting Star - a specially designed trophy by Swarovski.
However, the missing X-factor is the absence of Indian players who could have been attracted to spice up the event which was anyway played in a venue outside Pakistan.
Former Pakistan great Wasim Akram feels they would be more than welcome to the new T20 league.
"For starters Pakistani players if they participate in IPL and Indian players if they are able to come here, it will be excellent not just for Pakistan or India but for players themselves," said Akram who is bowling coach of Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.
"Ofcourse I hope so. In the long run let's hope thing will get better between the two countries and I always said politics should stay away from sportsman," said the Pakistan legend speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the 'Wasim Akram's Cricket News' app in Dubai on Thursday.
"With one press of a button, you get favourite cricket websites, verified twitter, facebook accounts, all the international cricket news, everything is available under one umbrella," he said.
Although regular bilateral series between India and Pakistan are yet to take place, Akram dreams of building bridges between the two countries through sport.
"I think if Indian players play with Pakistan players in one league, it will be awesome ... dream come true," said Akram who is Director of Team Islamabad United.
He also hoped that the PSL would happen in Pakistan in the future though it will take some time before it could rival IPL.
"IPL is happening for last several years. IPL is top of ladder. If PSL happens in future in Pakistan, hopefully we will get there some day," said Akram
There is no doubt these are exciting days for Pakistan cricket ever since PSL finally took off.
The tournament began with a dazzling opening ceremony featuring performances by Sean Paul, Ali Zafar and Sanam Saeed.
Jamaican singer Paul was joined on stage by West Indian cricketers Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy.
Although there have been low-scoring matches due to the slow nature of the pitches, there has not been a dearth of entertainment.
Tainted Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Amir made a dream start by taking the first hat-trick of PSL for Karachi Kings against Lahore Qalandars while Shakib Al Hasan and Luke Wright smashed blistering half centuries to make short work of a 126-run target.
Pakistan opener Ahmed Shehzad silenced his critics batting like a true gladiator smashing a 46 ball-71 studded with five boundaries and four sixes during their win over Karachi Kings.
Shakib and Hafeez showed there were no terrors on the pitch as Peshawar Zalmi romped to a nine-wicket win over Lahore Qalandars while Gayle has yet to join the party being castled for a first-ball duck by Junaid Khan on Saturday.
However, the most poignant moment of the PSL has not been about the cricket but about the presence of 146 students of the Army Public School who survived a Taliban terror attack in December 2014.
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