"I’m absolutely buzzing to be part of the Pakistani ‘mela’ coming up in February.”
The Pakistan Super League (PSL) carnival of T20 cricket takes place in the neutral desert territory of United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 04 February to 23 February 2016.
The biggest event in the history of Pakistan cricket will feature players from home and abroad.
The first edition of the tournament will comprise of five city-based teams including Karachi Kings, Lahore Qalandars, Islamabad United, Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators.
Administrated by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), this professional T20 cricket league is a good sign for the country.
With the UAE located close to Pakistan, and a huge South Asian population of cricket lovers residing in the Middle East, it is expected that the fans will fulfil the financial feasibility of the tournament.
Fans back home have high expectations from the PCB to stage a successful tournament in 2016. There are plans to expand teams each year and hold the final in Pakistan from 2017.
The PSL will be lucrative, benefiting both the PCB and players. According to PSL commissioner, Najam Sethi, “PCB money will go back to grassroots development and constructing new grounds.”
The PSL logo was revealed during a glittering ceremony in Lahore attended by cricketing stars and celebrities on 15 September 2015.
During the logo launch, confirming his participation in the league via a video message, former English captain Kevin Pietersen said:
“Hi guys, I’m absolutely buzzing to be part of the Pakistani ‘mela’ coming up in February. I can’t get wait to get started.”
The right handed batsman added: “It looks like it is going to be a wonderful competition, Lots of fun, lots of sixes, lots of wickets, typical t20 stuff.”
To add some josh to the tournament, Pakistani singer Ali Zafar won the hearts of the cricketing fraternity as he performed the official anthem ‘Ab Khel Ke Dikha’ (Time to Play the Game) at the launch party.
#AbKhelKeDikha is not only trending on twitter, but also seen as the driving force for the tournament.
Teams have also released their individual anthems including ‘Dilon Ke Baadshah’ for Karachi Kings (Ali Amat) and Lahore Qalandars ‘Mast Qalandar’ (Asrar).
The drafting for the PSL took place on 21 and 22 December 2015. 137 local and 171 foreign players were named in the draft.
Over these two days the five franchises completed signing players under the platinum, diamond, gold, emerging and supplementary categories.
Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Chris Gayle, Shane Watson and Kevin Pietersen were picked by their respective teams as iconic players.
Every team is likely to feature four foreign players similar to that of ‘Boom Boom’ Shahid Afridi in the playing XI.
Two emerging players who have not yet represented Pakistan will get the chance to play for each team and compete against the very best in foreign conditions.
With an intriguing mix of teams, lets take a look at the players, owners and coaches:
Platinum: *Shoaib Malik, Shakib Al Hasan (BAN), Sohail Tanvir.
Diamond: Ravi Bopara (ENG), Lendl Simmons (WI), Imad Wasim.
Gold: Mohammad Aamir, Bilawal Bhatti, James Vince (ENG).
Silver: Iftikhar Ahmed, Nauman Anwar, Mushfiqur Rahim, Usama Mir, Sohail Khan.
Emerging: Mir Hamza, Saifullah Bangash.
Supplementary: Tillakaratne Dilshan (SL), Shahzaib Hasan, Fawad Alam.
Owner: ARY Group (Salman Iqbal, CEO)
Head Coach: Micky Arthur
Platinum: Chris Gayle (WI), Umar Akmal, Dwayne Bravo (WI).
Diamond: Sohaib Masood, Mohammad Rizwan.
Gold: Kevon Cooper (WI), Cameron Delport (SA).
Silver: Zafar Gohar, Hammad Azam, Zia-ul-Haq, Zohaib Khan, *Azhar Ali.
Emerging: Naved Yasin, Adnan Rasool.
Supplementary: Abdul Razzaq, Mukhtar Ahmed, Ehsan Adil, Imran Butt.
Owner: Qatar Lubricants Company Ltd (Fawad Rana, MD)
Head Coach: Paddy Upton
Platinum: Shane Watson (AUS), Andre Russell (WI), *Misbah-ul-Haq.
Diamond: Brad Haddin (AUS), Mohammad Irfan, Samuel Badree (WI).
Gold: Mohammad Sami, Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif.
Silver: Babar Azam, Imran Khalid, Kamran Ghulam, Umar Amin, Sam Billings (ENG).
Emerging: Rumman Raees, Amad Butt.
Supplementary: Ashar Zaidi, Saeed Ajmal, Hussain Talat, Umar Siddiq.
Owner: Leonine Global Sports (Ali Naqvi)
Head Coach: Dean Jones
Platinum: *Shahid Afridi, Wahab Riaz, Darren Sammy (WI).
Diamond: Mohammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal.
Gold: Jim Allenby (AUS), Junaid Khan, Tamim Iqbal (BAN).
Silver: Aamer Yamin, Dawid Malan (ENG), Imran Khan Jr, Shahid Yousuf, Abdur Rehman.
Emerging: Musadiq Ahmed Ali, Hassan Ali.
Supplementary: Mohammad Asghar, Brad Hodge (AUS), Israrullah, Taj Wali, Shaun Tait (AUS).
Owner: Haier Pakistan (Javed Afridi, CEO)
Head Coach: Mohammad Akram
Platinum: Kevin Pietersen (ENG), *Sarfraz Ahmed, Ahmed Shehzad.
Diamond: Luke Wright (ENG), Anwar Ali.
Gold: Umar Gul, Zulfiqar Babar, Elton Chigumbura (ZIM).
Silver: Bilal Asif, Asad Shafiq, Mohammad Nawaz, Saad Nasim, Mohammad Nabi (AFG).
Emerging: Akbar-ur-Rahman, Bismillah Khan.
Supplementary: Kumar Sangakkara (SL), Aizaz Chema, Rameez Raja Jr.
Owner: Omar Associates (Nadeem Omar, Director)
Head Coach: Moin Khan
Former Pakistan cricketers Rameez Raja and Wasim Akram have been named as the ambassadors for the PSL.
The 20-day inaugural event is to be regulated by the ICC. The 2016 schedule comprises of a double round robin and play-offs format.
Each franchise will play each other twice in the league format. Teams will be awarded two points for a win. In the event of a no result, both teams will share a point each.
Top four teams will progress to the play-offs. The top two teams will play the first qualifier, while the loser of the 1st qualifier and winner of the 2nd play-off will meet in play-off 3. Winners of play-off 1 and 3 will meet in the final.
There will be a total of twenty-four matches (day/night) in the tournament. Fifteen matches, including all three play-offs and final will be played at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. The other nine fixtures will take place at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
‘Ab Khel Ke Dikha’ singer Ali Zafar and international star Sean Paul will lead the opening ceremony of the Pakistan Super League, followed by the first match between Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators in Dubai on 04 February 2016.