The PSL final is due to be held on March 5, and three English players, who were part of the Quetta Gladiators have opted out. PCB, prior to this, already had announced that there are replacements in line. All went haywire with the backlash from the local fans. Well, it’s okay agar aap nahi aana chah rahay! (it’s okay if you don’t want to come)

The spectrum of point scoring is broad in this situation. Where the government takes its egoistic stand to stage a political gimmick, establishment is in pursuit of proving its resolve. The opposition is less interested; PTI is not amused with the prospective roman-arena-games in perceived troubled times. Ex-cricketers are skeptical and fans want a fairy tale.

Life is already tough for Pakistani fans, with the level of talent in the national side failing to impress anymore at the international level. PSL seems to have given a lifeline to the dying cult of ol’ school enthusiasts. At least now the exuberance of having international talent on local flagships, boosted the morale to some level. For instance, fans got a kick out of feeling the ownership of foreign talent, such as … woh KP, apna Quetta waala! Karachi ka Gayle kamaal hai yaar! (our KP from our Quetta! Karachi’s Gayle is awesome dude!) One has got to admit, this was unprecedented.

But if the foreign players don’t feel safe in coming to Pakistan for PSL 2 then it is fine. We should wish them well and thank them for their contribution to our PSL. The involvement of point scoring in the domain of foreign players should be out of bounds. We may have been hurt from being unable to witness top foreign teams play in our grounds, but it can’t just distract us from what is coming on Sunday in Lahore. It is a small step, nonetheless, an essential one, in the right direction. If not in PSL 2 then may be in PSL 3 Karachi can witness the confidence instilled in foreign players by the credibility of our security forces and consistency of love emitted by the Pakistani fans for the game of cricket.

While I call for restraint for foreign players that choose to opt out of Lahore final, there are those who are yet to decide, waiting for the outcome of tonight’s playoff. Those who are overwhelmed by the Pakistani fan-base, and are satisfied by the strong security measures taken for them, shall indebt Pakistani fans for long time – such as Sir Viv Richards, who is a mentor of Quetta Gladiators, as well as Darren Sammy and Marlon Samuels. They will weigh in gold. Thus, for their priceless contribution, the restraint of reaction is the least of my worries, as in due time, the admiration of their courage will outflow.

We have had better times in the past. Well, as the old saying goes, there is a good thing about bad time as well: it does not last. So, those comparing PSL and its ‘futility’ to IPL, can have a look at the spirit of cricket that PSL fans believe in. IPL fans are welcome to enjoy the spectacle of a game at the final too, with no egos attached, just a game of T20 cricket in its essence. The brand of PSL may have been an underdog but the passion that it stands on is majestic.

When do you hear chants of national slogans at random and crowds hailing patriotic songs in a national cricket franchise league? Even Sam Billings and Steven Finn did a bhangra on Dil Dil Pakistan! All of this is reflection of a phenomenon known as ‘Pakistan cricket fandom’. And yet, the rivalries are ever so strong among the teams and their fans, with each team having its own song to illustrate its desire and tenacity to supersede the other.

As for the national players, they are ecstatic to be back in Lahore and play in front of their own crowd, in their own city and their own ground. At the same time they are also happy to play with the established international players, who took the time out of their lives, to join them in PSL.

Kevin Pietersen, Luke Wright and Tymal Mills, have definitely contributed to Quetta’s place in final and if it wins PSL2, they should be hailed as much as the team present in Lahore. Similarly it goes to say that the two teams reaching the final are equally obliged to the contribution of the foreign players and should give them match fee as a goodwill gesture for the final match, even if they opt out. At the same time, the foreign commentators, Mel Jones, Alan Wilkins, Ian Bishop and Danny Morrison, also played a huge role in instilling life into the PSL 2, and should be appreciated for their part in PSL 2 success by the fans. They have definitely added spice to the game analysis during the breaks, and will be missed in Lahore on March 5.

So, let’s hope for a peaceful and successful staging of the final of PSL 2. A nation will celebrate its resolve against terrorism and its will to enjoy the game of cricket while at it. It is okay if you choose not to join us in Lahore, but the hope must go on…