Gayle, Watson, Afridi, Pietersen lapped up in PSL player draftArchive
LAHORE: While Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq along with Chris Gayle, Kevin Pietersen and Shane Watson were the big names that were selected at the HBL-Pakistan Super League player draft ceremony on Monday, Sri Lankan players were not taken by any franchise owing to speculations about PSL dates clashing with their bilateral series against India.
Moreover, experienced professionals like Younis Khan and now out-of-the-picture Saeed Ajmal could not attract any buyer. Even veteran pros Mohammad Hafeez and Umar Gul were picked in their respective categories after a considerable delay.
In a category-wise selection, nine players from Platinum, Diamond and Gold categories (three from each category) were picked by each of the five franchise teams named Islamabad United, Karachi Kings, Peshawar Zalmi, Quetta Gladiators and Lahore Qalandars.
While hot properties like national T20 captain Afridi and Test skipper Misbah were chosen by Peshawar Zalmi and Islamabad United, respectively, seasoned batsman Younis surprisingly did not attract any buyer during a colourful ceremony at the National Cricket Academy. The 38-year-old Younis’s recent statement that he will only feature in the PSL as captain might not have gone down well with the franchises.
However, the biggest surprise at the ceremony came as all the franchises avoided picking any Sri Lankan player amid speculative reports on a limited-overs series being held between Sri Lanka and India clashing directly with PSL dates (Feb 4-23).
According to sources, the franchises did not take any chances otherwise they might land themselves in trouble in case the players from Sri Lanka preferred national duty over PSL.
Though Wasim Akram and Ramiz Raja, the PSL ambassadors, tried to play down the Sri Lankans’ absence, both at the same time acknowledged that the unusual development would somehow affect endeavours of many youngsters in the league looking to improve by sharing dressing room with top cricketers.
These included the likes of Kumar Sangakkara, Angelo Mathews, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Lasith Malinga.
But overall, both Wasim and Ramiz believed, it was a good start to the PSL.
The proceedings started with Peshawar picking explosive T20 campaigner Afridi from the Platinum category. Karachi Kings went for in-form Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik from the same category. The first Platinum category foreign player bought was Australian all-rounder Shane Watson, by Islamabad United.
In their first Platinum pick, England’s star batsman Kevin Pietersen was drafted by Quetta Gladiators. With the last pick in round one of the Platinum category, Lahore Qalandars secured West Indies’ mighty hitter Chris Gayle.
The 23-year-old pacer Mohammad Amir — who was named in the national fitness camp recently after completing his spot-fixing ban — was seized by Karachi Kings from Gold category.
Here it may be mentioned that the PCB had decided to stage the PSL at neutral venues of Dubai and Sharjah, fearing many foreign players would avoid coming to Pakistan due to security-related issues.
However, looking at the list of players drafted here on Monday it becomes obvious that the PSL will be lacking in top-profile players — strengthening the notion of several critics who anticipating the present scenario had urged the PCB to organise the inaugural edition of the league in Pakistan.
Among foreign players bought by the five franchises on Monday only Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy, Ravi Bopara, Lendl Simmons, Samuel Badree, Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell (West Indies), Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mustafizur Rahman, (Bangladesh), Shane Watson (Australia) and Kevin Pietersen (England) are prominent.
Former stalwarts Wasim Akram, Australia’s Dean Jones, Moin Khan, Ijaz Ahmed and Mushtaq Ahmed selected the players for their respective teams.
On Tuesday, the teams will pick seven more players from two remaining categories — Silver and Emerging Players — to complete their 16-member squad. However, they are allowed to pick four more as supplementary picks, which is not mandatory.
Lahore’s Platinum choices, other than Gayle, were Dwanye Bravo and Umar Akmal.
Peshawar also picked up left-arm paceman Wahab Riaz, all-rounder Darren Sammy from Platinum category. And the same franchise opted for Pakistan’s premier batsman Mohammad Hafeez from Diamond category and fast bowler Junaid Khan from Gold.
Quetta Gladiators took first-choice Pakistan wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed and opener Ahmed Shahzad from Platinum group to partner Pietersen.
There are also reports coming from the PSL camp that Hafeez, whose bowling action has been declared illegal by the ICC, will be allowed to bowl in the PSL, since it is a domestic event of the PCB.
Shane Watson, Andre Russell, Misbah-ul-Haq (Platinum).
Brad Haddin, Mohammad Irfan, Samuel Badree (Diamond).
Mohammad Sami, Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif (Gold).
Shoaib Malik, Shakib Al Hasan, Sohail Tanvir (Platinum); Ravi Bopara, Lendl Simmons, Imad Wasim (Diamond); Mohammad Amir, Bilawal Bhatti, James Vince (Gold).
Chris Gayle, Umar Akmal, Dwayne Bravo (Platinum); Sohaib Maqsood, Mohammad Rizwan, Yasir Shah (Diamond); Kevon Cooper, Cameron Delport, Mustafizur Rehman (Gold).
Shahid Afridi, Wahab Riaz, Darren Sammy (Platinum); Mohammad Hafeez, Chris Jordan, Kamran Akmal (Diamond); James Allenby, Junaid Khan, Tamim Iqbal (Gold).
Kevin Pietersen, Sarfraz Ahmed, Ahmed Shehzad (Platinum); Luke Wright, Jason Holder, Anwar Ali (Diamond); Umar Gul, Zulfiqar Babar, Elton Chigumbura (Gold).
Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2015