Yesterday, cricket came home as the elimination round of Pakistan Super League (PSL) was played in Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Thousands of cricket enthusiasts thronged the stadium to enjoy the match between Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators.
The crowd was super charged and the game was quite thrilling as Gladiators lost to Zalmi by a mere run. It was a close match and after the loss, the former Pakistan skipper, Moin Khan, who is a coach on Gladiators’ team, spoke up about why his team had underperformed and one of the main reasons he had cited was that the foreign players dropped out of the team because they did not want to come to Pakistan.
“We should only pick players who are willing to visit Pakistan,” Moin said after the match, according to ESPNcricinfo. “We do not need to push for individual star power anymore as our league has now become a bigger brand and we now need to think about the teams. So in the future, we don’t need to get players who don’t want to come to Pakistan. This is hurting Pakistan as it is sends a negative signal and affects our country’s image as well.”
The World Cup winner saw his side lose veteran Shane Watson and Kevin Pietersen, both of whom were instrumental in Quetta’s run to the playoffs, and he believes that should not happen from next year.
“Their refusal to visit Pakistan sends a false impression that we are an unsafe country, but I am pretty sure we are a safe country and that they should come here and play,” he said. “I personally feel we eventually shouldn’t be dependent on these players. If somebody respects Pakistan and the image of the country, he should come here and play this league.”
On the other hand, Peshawar Zalmi’s entire team had travelled to Lahore for the match and it included players like Tamim Iqbal, Liam Dawson and skipper Darren Sammy.
Quetta, meanwhile, had to sign Thisara Perera from Multan Sultans and rely on their local players to step up.
“[I am] feeling hurt as a head coach,” Moin said after the match. “It was a good match in terms of entertainment but we made mistakes and played a few unnecessary shots. But overall our batting combination was broken. Watson didn’t come despite committing but with KP we always knew he wouldn’t be coming.”
Perera and Bangladesh’s Mahmudullah joined the side at the last minute and Moin believes that too affected the side.
“Perera joined us as we were making our way to the ground and he landed in Lahore after three connections from Colombo to Dubai to Karachi to Lahore,” he said. “Tom [Kohler-Cadmore] and Mahmudullah landed earlier in the morning. It doesn’t matter how big a player you are, your body needs rest. We had discussed in our team meeting that we don’t need to depend on our overseas players, and have to show commitment and responsibility as a team. Winning and losing are parts of the game but I am happy that we managed to stretch the game in the end and had a close finish.”