KARACHI: Peshawar Zalmi, a popular franchise of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), on Wednesday named Arab News Pakistan as its media partner for a second year in a row, the owner of the cricket team said ahead of the formal launch of the tournament’s sixth season on February 20.
Pakistan’s inaugural national cricket league, launched in 2016, has been a huge success, even though many of the matches in the first five editions had to be played in the United Arab Emirates due to security risks. Last year, all matches of the series were played in Pakistan for the first time, but the final in March was delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak and finally played in November before an empty stadium.
“We did partnership with Arab News Pakistan last year and I am happy to renew this for the 2021 edition,” Javed Afridi, the owner of Peshawar Zalmi, said. “Arab News is not only one of the readers’ first choice in the Middle East but it’s Pakistan digital edition is among the most popular in South Asia due to its excellent coverage and positive reporting.”
— PeshawarZalmi (@PeshawarZalmi) February 16, 2021
Pakistan had largely been starved of international cricket since a 2009 attack on a bus carrying Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore, which killed eight Pakistanis and wounded six players and a British coach. The incident forced Pakistan to play home matches in the United Arab Emirates, with foreign players refusing to play on Pakistani soil.
But the unprecedented popularity of PSL, which brought 40 foreign players to the country in 2019, is seen as pivotal in changing the global cricket community’s opinion of Pakistan’s ability to host international matches.
Over 80 million people, roughly 70 percent of Pakistan’s TV-viewing public, tuned in to watch the final game of the series last year.
Speaking about the partnership deal, Baker Atyani, Asia bureau chief of Arab News, said Peshawar Zalmi was one of the leading teams of the league, which had won the title once and played final matches in two of the last five seasons.
“We are happy to have partnered with Peshawar Zalmi and hope that the franchise will win the final of the sixth edition,” Atyani said, adding that PSL, especially Peshawar Zalmi, had played a major role in promoting cricket in Pakistan and abroad. “PSL deserves to be credited for the return of cricket to Pakistan and Peshawar Zalmi is at top of the list because it was its owner Javed Afridi who led the campaign to persuade foreigner players to play in Pakistan.”
“We wish Peshawar Zalmi best of luck for the upcoming tournament, and PSL supporters a very exciting and a successful season,” Atyani added.
Peshawar Zalmi is one of six teams that play in the series. It represents Peshawar, the capital of the country’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The other teams come from Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, Quetta and Multan.
Arab News Pakistan, an edition of Arab News, was launched in February 2018.