Here is what you need to know about the upcoming third season of the annual Twenty20 competition, organised by the Pakistan Cricket Board
PSL 2018: Lowdown on tournament being played in UAE and Pakistan
The HBL Pakistan Super League is returning to the UAE, with Peshawar Zalmi set to start their title defence on the opening night at Dubai International Stadium on Thursday, February 22.
What is it?
The newly-expanded six-team competition is a franchise Twenty20 League run by the Pakistan Cricket Board.
Because of security concerns back in Pakistan, it has been staged in the UAE since its launch in 2016, but moves have gradually been made to take the sport – and the league – back there since.
Peshawar Zalmi, led by the two-time World T20-winning captain Darren Sammy, were victorious last year when they beat Quetta Gladiators in the final in Lahore.
What is new?
For the first time since its inception, the league has expanded. There is one additional team joining the five who have played previously. Multan Sultans have joined.
They will be led by Shoaib Malik, who started out the first PSL as Karachi Kings’ captain, but did not even make it through the first season before passing on the mantle.
Another new feature of PSL 3 is that more matches will be played in Pakistan. Extensive efforts, including a massive security presence, were made to bring last year’s final back to Lahore.
After that trial run went off without a hitch, two play-off matches have been scheduled for Lahore this year, with the final set for Karachi on March 21.
Who is playing?
The tournament involves the leading Pakistan national team players, while each team must also include an “emerging player” in each starting XI.
Allied to that, PSL 3 has perhaps the best batch yet of overseas players since it started three seasons ago. Established names like Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Bravo and Eoin Morgan will be involved, while a set of players making their name specifically in T20 are also due to feature.
This includes the likes of New Zealander Colin Munro and the exciting Barbados-born fast bowler Jofra Archer.
What else should we look out for?
Andre Russell is making his return after a doping ban. The popular Jamaican all-rounder is one of a group of players who are featuring in the PSL rather than as part of West Indies’ bid to qualify for the 2019 World Cup via a tournament in Zimbabwe than runs from March 4 to 25.
Rashid Khan, the leg-spinner from Afghanistan, will briefly feature, before heading off to play for his national team in that Qualifier in Bulawayo.
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Islamabad United overcame an indifferent start to life as a PSL franchise by making a late surge to win the inaugural title in Dubai in 2016.
Their defence 12 months ago was derailed by a variety of off-field issues, with one of their 2016 stars, opener Sharjeel Khan, being suspended – and later banned for five years – for corruption.
Peshawar Zalmi, who have proved to be the most popular – and successful – team at matches in the UAE won in 2017. They benefitted from being able to retain all their overseas regulars, including their hero Sammy, for the trip to Lahore for the final.
The likes of Kevin Pietersen and Tymal Mills opted out of making the journey due to security fears, meaning Quetta Gladiators had to bolster their squad by picking up players from a reserve pool.
A “global pass” that entitles the bearer to unlimited visits to matches at Dubai International Stadium, is available. These cost Dh289 for general admission seats, Dh502 for international, and Dh999 for premium east.
They can also be bought in person at selected outlets of Al Ghurair International Exchange, Al Fardan Exchange, Karachi Darbar, Delhi Nihari, Sind Punjab Restaurant, Leopard Courier and Filli Cafe.