The eagerly-anticipated fifth season of Pakistan Super League (PSL), country’s topflight T20 tournament, will begin on Thursday.
Following a glittering opening-ceremony at Karachi’s National Stadium, reigning champions Quetta Gladiators and three-time finalists and two-time title winners Islamabad United will line up to kick-off the season.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has been staging the competition entirely on its own soil for the first time, having been forced to host all the previous four seasons mainly in the United Arab Emirates due to foreign players’ reluctance to visit Pakistan.
The six teams will play 34 games between them in a round-robin format, with each team facing the five other twice in the league phase. The top four sides in the points table will advance to the playoffs while the two at the bottom will be eliminated from the event.
The playoffs follow the standard format, with table toppers taking on the second-placed side in the Qualifier and the winner proceeding into the final.
The losing side will get a second chance at the Eliminator 2, where they will lock horns with the winner of Eliminator 1, which will be played between third and fourth-placed teams. The winner will seal a berth in the summit clash while the losing side will be knocked out of the tournament.
With the league being held entirely in Pakistan, PCB has announced four venues – Lahore, Multan, Rawalpindi, and Karachi – to stage the competition.
Lahore will host 14 games, including all the playoffs. Karachi will get nine, Rawalpindi eight and Multan three games.
PCB has announced total prize money of $1million for the tournament, $500,000 of which will go to the champions and $200,000 to the runners-up. The man-of-the-match of each game will accumulate $4,500 while the best batsman and bowler of the tournament and the winner of Spirit of the Cricket award will receive $80,000 apiece.
Quetta Gladiators – Mohammad Nawaz, Shane Watson, Jason Roy, Ahmed Shehzad, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Umar Akmal, Naseem Shah, Abdul Nasir, Arish Ali Khan, Mohammad Hasnain, Ahsan Ali, Ben Cutting, Sohail Khan, Tymal Mills, Azam Khan, Keemo Paul, Khurram Manzoor, Zahid Mehmood.
Islamabad United – Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Amad Butt, Musa Khan, Rizwan Hussain, Dale Steyn, Luke Ronchi, Hussain Talat, Rumman Raees, Phil Salt, Zafar Gohar, Akif Javed, Colin Ingram, Colin Munro, Dawid Malan, Ahmed Safi Abdullah, Saif Badar.
Multan Sultans – Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Ali Shafiq, Shan Masood, Shahid Afridi, James Vince, Rilee Rossouw, Mohammad Ilyas, Moeen Ali, Sohail Tanvir, Khushdil Shah, Usman Qadir, Zeeshan Ashraf, Ravi Bopara, Fabian Allen, Wayne Madsen, Rohail Nazir, Imran Tahir, Bilawal Bhatti.
Peshawar Zalmi – Wahab Riaz, Kamran Akmal, Darren Sammy, Hasan Ali, Kieron Pollard, Carlos Brathwaite, Amir Khan, Aamir Ali, Mohammad Mohsin, Rahat Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Umar Amin, Lewis Gregory, Liam Dawson, Adil Amin, Liam Livingstone, Haider Ali Khan, Tom Banton, Shoaib Malik.
Lahore Qalandars – Fakhar Zaman, David Wiese, Usman Shinwari, Haris Rauf, Sohail Akhtar, Salman Butt, Dilbar Hussain, Dane Vilas, Mohammad Hafeez, Jaahid Ali, Seekkuge Prasanna, Ben Dunk, Farzan Raja, Mohammad Faizan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Chris Lynn, Samit Patel.
Karachi Kings – Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Amir, Babar Azam, Imad Wasim, Usama Mir, Umer Khan, Alex Hales, Aamir Yamin, Fawad Ahmed, Cameron Delport, Mohammad Rizwan, Umaid Asif, Ali Khan, Chris Jordan, Sharjeel Khan, Mitch McClenaghan, Chadwick Walton, Arshad Iqbal, Awais Zia.