The first season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), the country’s first franchise-based cricketing league, got off to a spectacular start at Dubai Sports City Stadium last night.

The inaugural ceremony was a star-studded affair, with celebrities from all walks of life in attendance, politicians, film and TV stars, sports greats, business titans, all were there to cheer Pakistan’s entry into the international league cricket business.

With team anthems reverberating in the arena, the participating players from the five teams from Karachi, Islamabad, Quetta, Lahore and Peshawar strode in to be greeted by screaming fans.

As presenters introduced the captains and their teams, the loudest applause and cheers were, as usual, reserved for Boom Boom Shahid Afridi. It seems there’s no way this amazing crowd-puller can be dislodged from the hearts of his die-hard fans, performance on the pitch notwithstanding.

The Pakistan T20 squad has slipped to a miserable seventh place in international rankings after the New Zealand debacle, but organizers feel that PSL will give local talent, newcomers as well as veterans, a chance to hone their cricketing skills playing alongside world-class stars like Kevin Pietersen, Chris Gayle and Shane Watson.

The PSL opening ceremony had scintillating performances by Mohib Mirza and Sanam Saeed, and the crowds sang with abandon with ‘Rockstar’ Ali Zafar and Jamaican Sean Paul. The evening was marked with a spectacular light show and the traditional fireworks.

The PSL, featuring 69 Pakistani and 29 foreign cricketers, will be running till February 23rd in stadiums in Dubai and Sharjah, where huge crowds are expected to attend the matches. Private consortiums have bought teams for $93 million across ten years, with the players getting lucrative contracts.

Let’s hope now that the spectators too, will get their money’s worth.