KARACHI: The second edition of the Pakistan Super League commences from today amid much fanfare and festivity. The Pakistan Super League has been the talk of the town and judging from the benefits that the league offers, one can understand why it has satisfied to some extent, the insatiable appetite of the cricket-hungry nation.

Nations experience highs and lows and experience ups and downs. However, Pakistan has been on the receiving end of a string of terrorist attacks since the past decade that has certainly been taxing on the country’s already-fragile economy. Enter the PSL and with it, great news. For a country that has been reeling from economic losses owing to the 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team which scared international cricket away from Pakistan, the PSL may be just what Pakistani cricket needs at the moment.

PSL brings with it ecstacy, excitement, action, thrill, joy, fanfare, festivity, entertainment, passion and most important of all, international cricketers. The sight of Brendon McCullum lofting the ball over cover from a Shane Watson delivery for a majestic six is much more than a spectacle in itself. It is a message, a crystal clear one that cricket is ready to return home to Pakistan. Kumar Sangakkara, Chris Gayle, Jason Roy, Sunil Narine, Dilshan and Darren Sammy are some of the prominent international cricketers who will be playing in Pakistan Super League. Unlike the inaugural edition, the final of PSL 2017 will be played in Lahore on March 5.

Much-needed confidence will be restored in Pakistan as a cricket-hosting nation when international cricketers will take to the field in Lahore for the PSL final in March. Bilateral international cricket series will take time to happen but the PSL final taking place in Lahore involving cricketers from around the world will certainly paint a positive picture of the security situation at home. Small steps certainly help undertake an arduous journey and for Pakistan, this one may be a huge leap to cover a vast distance.

To say that the PCB’s finances have dwindled ever since Pakistan has had to host home series in Dubai would be an understatement. The board has been hit hard with financial losses ever since it was stripped off the rights to co-host the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup and every other international cricket tournament and bilateral series, ever since. The financial constraints have resulted in local grounds not being upgraded and domestic cricket suffering as a result. The PCB did make a lot of moolah from the first edition of the tournament, a profit of $2.6 million according to Chairman PSL Najam Sethi. Sponsors and airtime rights have also led to the board making much-needed financial earnings which will hopefully bode well for the future of cricket in Pakistan.

For Pakistani cricketers such as Mohammad Sami, Saeed Ajmal, Bilawal Bhatti, Sohail Tanvir, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Irfan and others who have not made the squad for quite some time, it’s not only a lucrative opportunity to earn some dosh but also to prove themselves worthy yet again of donning the national colours to represent Pakistan on the international arena. Sharjeel Khan did secure himself a berth in the national squad last year after stunning all in the PSL final by scoring a hurricane century. Remember boys; all eyes are on the games to be played, including the selectors’.

For the average Pakistani cricket fan, to see one’s own cricket league receiving such heap and praise around the world is a matter of pride. We’ve watched IPL, the Big Bash League and others garner acclaim from sports enthusiasts for over several years now. Pakistanis have longed for a cricket league of their own and the PSL is everything we’ve ever dreamt of.

The Pakistan Super League has been the brainchild of Najam Sethi–who has worked tirelessly for this endeavour and brought smiles and joy to his countrymen when it was needed the most. The veteran journalist, cricket enthusiast and former PCB Chairman deserves a pat on the back for bringing the dream that was PSL to life by burning the midnight oil.

So all in all, Pakistan Super League has generated much buzz and excitement from around the world. The second edition of the tournament promises more action in the sense that the matches have been increased from 16 to 24. Three more awards will be awarded to the best batsman, best bowler and the best wicket-keper.

The best batsman’s trophy, named after legendary Pakistan batsman Hanif Mohammad (Crystallized cricket bat) was unveiled by Lahore Qalandars captain and batsman Brendon McCullum, Islamabad United’s captain and batsman Misbah-ul-Haq and Karachi Kings’ captain, the legendary Sri Lankan batsman Kumar Sangakkara.

The Best Bowler’s trophy, a crystallised cricket ball named after legendary fast bowler Fazal Mahmood (Crystallised cricket ball) was unveiled by Peshawar Zalmi captain and all-rounder West Indian Daren Sammy.

The Best Wicket-keeper’s trophy, a crystallised wicket-keeper’s glove named after legendary wicket-keeper Imtiaz Ahmed was unveiled by Quetta Gladiators’ captain and wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed.

Pakistan has much to gain as well as a lot to lose from the cricketing tournament. One thing is for certain—all eyes are on Pakistan Super League and the nation must not, should not, cannot and hopefully WILL NOT drop the ball.