Even though the matches were to be played behind closed doors, by Tuesday afternoon the situation had reached a point where the Pakistan Super League semifinals were, for many, the solace from the current global reality. Those semifinals, which had already been shrunk down from the original playoffs, were to be indefinitely – and understandably – postponed, along with the final.
Many might call it an anticlimactic finale, but given that not just the entire sporting world, all of the planet is gradually being locked down, the PSL’s premature ending can hardly be interpreted has taking away any of the glitter that it had brimmed over with for almost a month.
Over the previous four seasons, the vast majority of which was played in the UAE, the Pakistan Super League had already established itself as a cause for celebration. In a country plagued by multi-pronged crisis, the February-March window provided an annual window for relief and much needed distraction for the cricket crazy nation.
Now with the entire tournament being played in Pakistan this year, amidst the presence of some of the biggest names in cricket – on the field, in the dugouts and within broadcasting teams – the PSL has officially established itself as an annual festival for the country. It will continue to remain as such for as long as cricket is played in our neck of the woods.
It wasn’t just the attendance, the enthusiasm across the country was truly memorable
Given the crisis that the planet is currently reeling from, one can’t be sure what the world will be like on the other side. But whatever transpires henceforth, PSL 2020 will remain in the folklore of Pakistan cricket.
If anything, paradoxically, the way the season had to be cut short has actually further immortalized PSL season five. Given shutdowns around the world coming at the tail end of the tournament, the country was given the optimum level of the collective joy that the circumstances have taken away.
We will look into the on-field matters from the PSL, the greatest cricketing talking points, and what it means for Pakistan cricket in due course. Of course, given the postponements and abandonments, we will have a lot of time to build up to all of that. This space will be dedicated to all things sport, in the quarantined world. For now, it’s all about looking back at the most recent of pasts, and cherishing the unforgettable memories that the PSL gave us.
Whether it was Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi or Multan, the crowds were jam-packed. And it wasn’t just the attendance that was momentous, it was the enthusiasm ubiquitous across the country that was truly memorable.
Like every year, the PSL gave us unforgettable images. Chadwick Walton getting comically entangled with the cult hero that Ben Dunk has become for the Lahoris, who might even be remembered as the man who turned around the Qalandars’ fortunes in the years to come. Nail-biting finales between Islamabad and Lahore, and then Lahore and Zalmi, were among the greatest thrillers in PSL history.
Off the field, this year one could see videos being shared of the players on various platforms, showing their everyday routines. A popular video had Pakistani players guessing pop culture icons and foreign cricketers having a go at naming Pakistani dishes.
All of this was made possible by the fact that the PSL was played in Pakistan in its entirety. Unfortunately, the pandemic has taken away cricket and sport from all of us. But it will all return soon.
The festivity will return. And the PSL will continue from where it left off.