By Muhammad Luqman
The schedule for the much anticipated fifth edition of the Pakistan Super League has been released by the Pakistan Cricket Board , with the series set to start on February 20.
According to the schedule, the series will run from February 20 to March 22, with all the matches being played on the home ground. A total of 34 matches will be played in four cities- Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi and Multan.
A countdown clock has been placed by the PCB at the entrance to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, where two eliminator rounds as well as the final will be held.
The first match will be held at the National Stadium in Karachi which will feature defending champions Quetta Gladiators and two-time champions Islamabad United. The stadium will also feature the series’ sole qualifier match.
Of the total 34 matches, 14 will take place in Lahore, nine in Karachi, eight in Rawalpindi and three in Multan.
The defending champions will play four of their scheduled fixtures in Karachi, three in Lahore, two in Rawalpindi and one in Multan.
Islamabad United will play three matches in Lahore, two in Karachi and five in Rawalpindi; Karachi Kings will play two matches in Lahore, five in Karachi, one in Multan and two in Rawalpindi; Multan Sultans will play five matches in Lahore, one in Karachi, three in Multan and one in Rawalpindi; and Lahore Qalandars will play eight matches in Lahore and one each in Karachi and Rawalpindi.
Following the release of the schedule, PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani said: “After bringing Test cricket back to Pakistan, hosting of the entire HBL Pakistan Super League is our other major achievement. I never had any doubts it was Pakistan’s league and should be played in front of home crowds. We had made this commitment to the people of Pakistan at the end of last year’s event and I am pleased today we have announced the event schedule with four centres to share the 34 event matches between them.”
Mani said that a total of 425 overseas players from 22 countries had registered for the series and that the tournament will feature 36 foreign stars.
Of these, 39 are from Afghanistan, 12 from Australia, 23 from Bangladesh, 10 from Canada, 109 from England, seven from Hong Kong, six from Ireland, seven from the Netherlands, eight from Nepal, 11 from New Zealand, nine from Oman, five from Scotland, four from Singapore, 27 from South Africa, 39 from Sri Lanka, nine from the UAE, six from the USA, 82 from the West Indies, 9 from Zimbabwe and one each from Bermuda, Kenya and Namibia, English newspaper, Daily Dawn reported.
“This shows the confidence that players throughout the world have in playing in Pakistan.
“Through this event, we expect the economy and tourism to get a significant boost, which will have a direct impact on the overall health of the country,” said the PCB chairman.
He said that the event will be a “long-awaited opportunity” for fans to see their “cricketing heroes live in action and reinforce their love for this great game”.
“I am expecting like last year, the entire country will get behind this tournament and by turning up in big numbers, they will once again show the world their passion for cricket.”