Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pakistan's answer to the IPL

Even phrases aren't safe with the Pakistan Cricket Board. "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" has been inverted, as the Pakistanis now plan to host their own version of the IPL.

A number of names are being considered. The frontrunner appears to be the Non-Indian Premier League, or NIPL, which is followed by the catchy tagline "Suck on That".

Location is proving more of a twister. The Pakistanis can't play at home because it's too dangerous. Thus the no-man's-land-but-cash-rules city of Dubai is the likely site for the tournament. However, according to some dude on Facebook called Zulqarnain Haider, even Dubai is too dangerous. But my mom told me not to believe everything on Facebook.

So Dubai it is. This is rather like someone in South Central LA hosting a party at a posh joint downtown, which says everything about the guests and their lack of adventure. Do people not realise that slumming in hot spots is the new eco-tourism? Who needs the has-been dull-dolls Shilpa Shetty and Preity Zinta when you have, as a regular visitor to Pakistan, Ms Angelina Jolie?

Shane Warne, at least, would definitely come.

Indeed, after further consideration of the potential delights, many more players, fans and shameless advertisers would follow.

In Peshawar we'd have strapping northern Pakistani men in lieu of the usual plastic cheerleaders, thus quadrupling the female television audience.

In Quetta we'd have commentators' product placement run riot: "...And that's a Babar Khan AK47 Superstore Yorker from Shoaib Akhtar". "...And that's an Omar's Mail Order Rocket Launchers Maximum from Adam Gilchrist." "And that's a Shireen's Specialist Moustache Removal Beauty Parlour Maiden from Daniel Vettori."

In Karachi, Chris Gayle would tweet live on the city's infamous target killings, eventually winning a Pulitzer Prize for journalism and declaring: "This is the big one. Forget World Cups and the Frank Worrell Trophy and even the Stanford millions. The West Indies Cricket Board will never understand me - this is the one I really wanted."

In Lahore, Andrew Symonds would hail the kebabs as the best in the world, tempting David Boon and Arjuna Ranatunga to join the swelling ranks of retired cricketers playing Twenty20. Inzamam-ul-Haq, however, would likely remain unmoved.

In Islamabad nothing would happen, and every Indian player would sigh with relief at a moment, however brief, of respite from cricket and its ensuing tamashas. "There is nothing to do," says the bored Isloo resident. "Yes," says MS Dhoni. "Exactly. What bliss!"

Also, following the example of the IPL, the NIPL would punish innocent players for the actions or non-actions of their government and therefore piss on sport's wonderful capacity to unite individuals beyond politics. Thus there would not be a single English player in sight. Two hundred years of subjugation and exploitation come with a price. Graeme Swann, you imperialist scum!

More than anything, Pakistanis would get to see some live cricket.

The stadiums of Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi are silent and starving. The bowl-shaped arenas are begging. What they need is the modern incarnation of the man who fed the five thousand. The man who walked on water. The man who can unite the warring tribes of Adidas and Nike and just do the impossible.

What's Lalit Modi up to these days?

Imran Yusuf is a writer who takes guard on middle and off. The quotes and "facts" in this piece are all made up, but you already knew that, didn't you?


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