ISLAMABAD - Coach Sabih Azhar has said that the Pakistan Super League (PSL) is a real ray of hope for entire Pakistani youth and helping in highlighting the best talent of the country.

Talking to The Nation, Sabih, who has not only won premier Quaid-e-Azam Trophy with Rawalpindi and Peshawar Regions, but also has tasted international successes with Pakistan U-19 and U-25 teams, said the PSL has put a new lease of life in Pakistan cricket and in short span of time, it would completely overturn the fortunes of not only Pakistan cricket, but also the world cricket. “The Rawalpindi and Islamabad have witnessed the rise of Shadab Khan, M Nawaz, Umer Amin, Rohail Nazir while promising players of other regions also got fair chances and it will keep on benefiting the top performers of domestic cricket.

“This year, the PSL has given so many players and stars like Hussain Talat, Asif Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, who have already made their debuts for national team, which is a clear indication that Pakistan cricket is on right track. The PSL is bound to excel under the dynamic leadership of PCB chairman Najam Sethi and soon it will be the biggest league of the world,” he added.

Sabih rubbished claims made by some quarters that Pakistan Super League (PSL) would destroy Pakistan cricket. “The matter of the fact is that the PSL is gaining huge popularity with each passing day and no one can deny the fact that it is one of the biggest and respectable leagues of the world cricket. In just third year of the league, it gave Pakistan so many future stars, while a number of others are in pipeline. People should criticize, if there is something wrong, but on the other hand, the positive things must also be appreciated.

“All the conspirators must now shun dual policies and accept the reality that international cricket has returned home and no one else, but PCB chairman Najam Sethi, government and security agencies must be given credit, while entire Pakistan was united for the national cause, which was witnessed after very long time,” he added.

He said the way Najam Sethi and his team have been delivering, there is absolutely no doubt that in a few months or within a year, full-fledged international cricket will return to Pakistan. “The highly successful hosting of PSL playoffs in Lahore and grand finale in Karachi have paved way for the full-fledged international cricket in Pakistan.

“The way crowd erupted in Karachi, the streets, roads, environment and the occasion, I can’t explain in words. Being actively involved with Pakistan cricket for almost four decades, I can easily claim that people of Pakistan have shown the world that how sports-loving we are. The Karachi turned up to mark the return of the international cricket first in shape of PSL final and then the West Indies three match T20 series, it clearly indicates that the entire Pakistan is ready to welcome not only international cricket, but also ready to host ICC events as well,” he added.

Lashing out at so-called cricket pundits, who described the West Indies as below par team and rated them as B or C class, Sabih said some circles only know one thing that is negativity and in reality, they even don’t know the ABC of cricket. “Firstly, everybody knows Pakistan is No 1 ranked team in the world in ICC T20 rankings, secondly all the major players of Pakistan were busy in playing the PSL, thirdly the West Indies only had two or three major players absent and that was because they were busy in World Cup qualification round and were tired. So it is unfair to label the West Indies as B or C grade team.

“Both the teams played top class cricket, after coming out of jetlag, the West Indies showed better performances in next two matches, but one must admit that Pakistan played wonderful cricket and never allowed Carabians to get out of their web. Any team would have struggled against Pakistan, as green caps played exceptional cricket and motivated crowd was another aspect, which lifted the morale of home team,” he added.  “I hope the ICC will now closely monitor Pakistan case and soon other international teams will visit the country and international cricket doors will be opened, that will bring back smiles the faces of long-suffering fans of Pakistan.

Almost a generation has been deprived of seeing international players playing in front of them, but now wait is over and Pakistan is geared up for hosting top class ICC and other bilateral events,” Sabih concluded.