LAHORE: The HBL Pakistan Super League has had a profound impact on the players and cricket at large in the country. While it has galvanised millions of fans and united them under the umbrella of cricket, it has served as a platform for the up and coming cricketers to rub shoulders with the best and upskill themselves all the while providing opportunities to those on the periphery to grab spots in the national side.
The eighth edition of the tournament, which kicks off with the defending champions Lahore Qalandars taking on hosts Multan Sultans at the Multan Cricket Stadium on 13 February, comes with plethora of opportunities for many cricketers participating in the biggest cricketing carnival in the country. And, they are eager to pounce on it.
PCB Digital spoke to some of those cricketers whose careers benefitted through HBL PSL. Their complete interviews are available here.
Mohammad Amir – Karachi Kings (first player to take a HBL PSL hat-trick and has 54 wickets to date)
“The HBL PSL helped me in getting back into rhythm after my return to competitive cricket. When I played the first edition of the HBL PSL, I had just made my international comeback in New Zealand and it provided me the exposure and environment of the international cricket because of the top quality of cricket.
“I travel all over the world to play cricket, and everyone rates the HBL PSL very highly because of the quality of bowling. No league comes closer in comparison when it comes to the quality of bowling, and now we are producing quality batters too.
“We have unearthed [Mohammad] Haris and we got Haider [Ali] as well. I have just returned from the Bangladesh Premier League and despite the fact that many leagues are taking place right now; people there were waiting for the HBL PSL to begin because of the high quality of cricket.”
Azam Khan – Islamabad United (who has scored 632 runs at a strike rate of 134.75)
“I was struggling against fast bowling on the tricky Abu Dhabi wickets during the HBL PSL 6 and I realised I needed to work on my ability to play against pace bowling. I started more intense practice, which made it easier to tackle pace in match situations.
“It was popularly perceived that I struggle against pace bowling at 140+ kph but for the past two years, I have vastly improved this aspect of the game and I feel satisfied to have overcome it.
“Initially, I felt I feared facing fast bowling. I started watching Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), which fascinated me and I thought to myself that the cricket ball is just a small thing and we are scared of it. How much hurt it can cause me compared to what the MMA fighters go through?”
Fakhar Zaman – Lahore Qalandars (leading run-scorer last year (588) and third most (1,939) runs in the tournament’s history at 138.79):
“I had played for Pakistan A before my HBL PSL debut, but playing against legends like Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard and sharing the dressing room with such a big name like Brendon McCullum gave me a lot of confidence.
“It is a great knowledge sharing experience as when the juniors share the dressing room with the senior international cricketers they learn about the tactics of the game and pick up things which they cannot do otherwise. So, I firmly believe, the HBL PSL will continue to benefit Pakistan cricket in future.”
Usama Mir – Multan Sultans (who played in the 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020 HBL PSLs for Karachi Kings)
“The HBL PSL has had a tremendous impact on my career. It gave me recognition, which opened the doors for various franchise leagues around the world.
“The HBL PSL provides one the taste of international cricket as you are playing quality cricket in pressure environment and you get to learn how to carry yourself in tough situations. You do not get under that much pressure in the other leagues, after you have played in the HBL PSL and the same happened with me – I found other leagues much easier after playing the HBL PSL.”
Wahab Riaz – Peshawar Zalmi (only bowler to take 100 or more wickets HBL PSL)
“The HBL PSL has had a great impact on the game of cricket in the country and it personally played an important role in my career.
“I was not part of the national side after the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, but as I continued to play competitive and top quality cricket in the HBL PSL, I stayed in the rhythm and it eventually helped me to be back in the side for the 2019 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.”