No matter what you talk about these days, it all has to center around the one theme engulfing the world. The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t just the greatest health crisis for a generation, it has practically halted all global activities – including, indeed, sports.
Over the coming weeks we will look into the impact it will have on global sports, with a focus on Pakistan. What we already know is that the third leg of the Bangladesh series scheduled for next month has been postponed, with any cricket anywhere unlikely for at least the next couple of months.
What has also come under jeopardy is the status of the ICC World T20, which was scheduled to be held in Australia in October. Keeping that in mind, we’ll be looking back at the fifth and unfinished edition of the Pakistan Super League, and its major on-field talking points in the coming weeks as well.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Cricket Board’s Chief Executive Officer Wasim Khan has discussed the possibilities of finishing PSL 5 – either in November this year, or in the lead up to PSL 6 next year. The other option, which we would back as well, is to consider the season as concluded and award the trophy to Multan Sultans.
While other leagues around the world mull over the conclusions of their competitions, the PSL’s decision has been made easier by the fact that the entire league stage had been played out, with all six teams contesting 10 matches each. Therefore, the PSL 5 edition, could be deemed a league competition without any playoffs.
The decision is further facilitated by the dominance of Multan Sultans over the season. With a three-point lead – massive in a 10 match league – over second placed Karachi Kings, and only two defeats throughout the campaign, Sultans would be worthy winners. If the competition had been closer, the decision would’ve been harder, with many other teams justifiably claiming that they were strategising in accordance with playoffs.
Giving the title to Multan Sultans would be a difficult decision. But these are unprecedented times, which require tough calls
In many ways, the league contest this year was especially unique, with tables being turned upside down – literally. Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators, who after the first few matches were topping the table, ended up being the two bottom sides at the end of the contest.
Perhaps the most memorable turnaround story, not just in this season, but PSL as a whole – and even all of T20 franchise cricket – was that of Lahore Qalandars. Typically glued to the bottom of the table in the first half of the competition, the Qalandars turned things around to finish third on the table.
While Sultans had maintained a distance early on, the Qalandars and Kings were the form team, and could’ve been tough to beat over the playoffs – or semifinals, whichever format would’ve taken place. Similarly, fourth placed Peshawar Zalmi too could’ve argued that they always perform well at the deep end, and would’ve fancied their chances in knockout contests.
Of course, wrapping up the league and giving the title to Multan Sultans would still be a difficult decision given that the rest of the teams would feel hard done by at different levels. It would still be a premature end. But these are unprecedented times, which require tough calls.
The future of the World T20 would have an impact on how we review the PSL 5 performances in the coming weeks. This season was going to be the grounds on which the pool for the World T20, and perhaps even the squad and the first choice 11 was going to be finalised. The decision would be made on March 29, which we will discuss next week.