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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 April 2019

It's not only Pakistanis who dream of seeing PSL played on home soil

PSL overseas players Fawad Ahmed and Sikandar Raza have represented Australia and Zimbabwe respectively but would love to see the competition return to the country of their birth

Zimbabwe's Sikandar Raza, second right, is one of the Karachi Kings' registered overseas players for the 2019 Pakistan Super League season. AFP
Zimbabwe's Sikandar Raza, second right, is one of the Karachi Kings' registered overseas players for the 2019 Pakistan Super League season. AFP

The idea of the Pakistan Super League being played on home soil might be a driving force for most Pakistani players, administrators and supporters. But they are not the only ones.

The fourth season’s intake includes two new recruits who were born in Pakistan, before finding a new life – and then international recognition – abroad.

Fawad Ahmed, who is originally from Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province but is now targeting a place in Australia’s World Cup squad, is joining Quetta Gladiators.

Sikandar Raza was born in Sialkot, left Pakistan age 14, and is now Zimbabwe’s leading all-rounder.

He will be making his debut in the PSL for a Karachi Kings side who are aiming to become champions for the first time.

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“I still get goosebumps thinking about the Zimbabwe tour to Pakistan in 2015,” said Raza, who scored a one-day international hundred in Lahore during that three-match series.

“Going back would be something I am really looking forward to, but before that what I really want to do is to do well for all the games we have in Dubai, and then take it home.”

This year’s competition is scheduled to have more matches than ever before back in Pakistan.

The first season, in 2016, was staged entirely in Dubai and Sharjah, while the final was played in Lahore a year later.

Last year’s event saw play-off matches in Lahore and Karachi, while this time around there will also be three league matches in those cities, as well as the finals matches.

Raza is happy to have been drafted to the competition, and relishes the challenge that comes with being granted one of the coveted overseas-player berths.

“Pressure is good, pressure gets the most out of professionals, in my opinion,” Raza, 32, said.

“We can hide behind the fact there is no pressure, but that is a lie in my opinion. There always is.

“When I was with Zimbabwe and we had a guy coming to help us mentally, there was a quote he mentioned that champions are made under pressure.

“So I try to thrive and get the most out of myself in those situations, to get the best results for the team.”

Karachi were second in the league phase last year, before being knocked out in the final eliminator match, and Mickey Arthur, their coach, wants to go one better this year.

“We have got better every year, going fourth, third, second, in terms of the pool, so I am expecting that to continue and us to go first – hopefully,” Arthur said.

“I think we have a really good squad. T20 cricket is all about momentum. If we can peak and get our momentum at the right time, we will be good.”

Updated: February 12, 2019 08:13 PM

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