Cricket and music: Ranking this year’s PSL anthems

While the rest of the world celebrates Valentine’s Day with a special loved one, for Pakistanis, that special someone is cricket. Ok, well, cricket is always on our minds, but today’s special: the start of the Pakistan Super League (PSL). Pakistan’s first T20 league to include overseas players started four years ago and has teams from six cities: Islamabad (2x winner), Peshawar (1x winner), Quetta, Karachi, Lahore and Multan.

Now being Pakistani, cricket and music are both strong parts of our identity. Nearly every region in Pakistan now has a stage to display their cricket, and with that, their regional music as well. Some teams took full advantage of this and even used music as a form of sending a message to the world. If you haven’t heard all the PSL songs for this season yet, here’s a bit of a guide to this season and their music.


Number seven: Islamabad United

Well, I suppose when you have enough trophies, there’s no need for a good song. As is the case with Islamabad United. They haven’t updated their anthem since season one, though it’s not a bad one. But it’s probably due for an update (Misbah ul-Haq is still clean-shaven in this song). Star Ali Zafar does a good job of bringing energy to the lyrics, but now, three years on, why not try some new lyrics? Or maybe even a different singer? Pakistan is loaded with musical talent. Aima Baig, Faakhir or how about Sahir Ali Bagga? Maybe get some rap in there as well. Young Desi or Lyari Underground?

Number six: Karachi Kings

Who better to represent the city of Karachi than Shehzad Roy? Roy’s done an excellent job in hyping up a city of 15 million people with his strong use of the electric guitar and frightening lyrics. This season, the Kings released “De Dhana Dhan”, featuring Shehzad Roy, Wasim Akram, actor Fahad Mustafa and captain Imad Wasim.

But as I listened to the song, something sounded quite familiar. Something in my head that was a year old:

The song’s nearly the same as last year’s, minus Boom Boom Afridi, and perhaps more advertising of sponsors. Still, the lyrics are well written and I’m now more hyped than before for Karachi this season!

Number five: Quetta Gladiators

The first original on this list, and what a good one it is! The song’s name is called “Badnaam” (بدنام) (Urdu: Bad reputation) and it’s performed by, well, Badnaam the band. But Badnaam is an amazing band. No other band could’ve performed this song as well as they did.

Also, remember how I said some teams will try to send a message through these songs? Quetta did exactly that. Despite the Gladiators being a cricket team, they depicted how important different sports are in Pakistan and the people whom they are important too. Appearances by the Pakistan Women’s Cricket Team, MMA fighter Ahmed Mujtaba, national Karate champions Shahida Hazara and Sabira Hazara and Pakistan Football (Soccer) captain Kaleemullah Khan all share the value which Quetta places in this song.

Number four: Peshawar Zalmi

Probably the most popular team in the PSL, thanks to Shahid Afridi and captain Darren Sammy, Peshawar consistently perform well in the PSL and have consistently came out with some excellent songs. From an instrumental ballad by Khumariyaan to an Urdu piece called “Zalmi Tarana” (ذلمی ترانا) (The way of the youth), this year, Peshawar Zalmi are sticking with their Pashtun roots in their new song “Zalmi da Pekhawar” (زلمي دې پېښور) (Pashto: Youth of Peshawar).

Perhaps the best thing about this song, other than being it the native Pashto tongue, is the switch between modern and traditional Afghani music, which this song possesses. Perfectly represents the “zalmi” (youth) of Pakistan and Peshawar’s Afghan identity.

Number three: The PSL themselves

For the last three seasons, Ali Zafar produced the theme songs for this annual event, but this time around, the PSL opted for a masterclass. You can never go wrong with the composition of Shuja Haider. And who doesn’t like Fawad Khan? For this year’s PSL, the theme song was sung by Khan in Urdu and was accompanied by a rap segment in Punjabi by Young Desi. When a majority of the country of Pakistan is native to the Punjabi tongue, it’s only time that Punjabi is included in the PSL anthem, and along with Shuja Haider’s dynamic composition, the beautiful prioritization of the guitar, and Young Desi’s nature, the perfect anthem was achieved.

Number two: Lahore Qalandars

Lahore has been sitting at the bottom of the table for three seasons, but their anthem was the best for three seasons. Their anthem, sung by Asrar, was exactly what Lahore is: history and culture. The song holds true to it’s Lahori saint traditions in the verses and the more traditional composition. But at the same time, it incorporates common parts of Pakistani music, such as the electric guitar when the chorus picks up to really make this song strong and prominent.

Number one: Multan Sultans

Only been around for just one of PSL’s three seasons thus far, Multan Sultans made their goal clear: to improve the cricket of South Punjab. But why is South Punjab so important? When the new owner of the team, Ali Khan Tareen, was appointed, in an interview with Zainab Abbas, he said that the level of talent in South Punjab needs to be looked upon and facilities need to be improved for them.

Another thing which makes Multan unique, being in South Punjab, is its own culture. The Saraiki culture and language aren’t like the rest of Punjab, and neither it its music. This song holds strong to its Multani roots and is nearly fully traditionally composed in Saraiki. The song, titled “Waqt-e-Janoob” (وقتِ جنوب) (Saraki: Time of the South) is sung by Pakistani legend Ustad Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi, and surely a legend must be at the top of the list.

The fourth edition of the PSL started of February 14, 2019 with Islamabad United beating Lahore Qalandars in the first match by five wickets in Dubai. Karachi Kings will play Multan Sultans and Quetta Gladiators will play Peshawar Zalmi tomorrow in Dubai.

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