Spectacular light shows and pyrotechnics ruled the night as the inaugural season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) kicked off with a glitzy opening ceremony held at the Dubai Sports City Stadium.
The players from the five teams from Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Karachi and Lahore strode out to the stadium in limos to the tune of their teams' anthems.
As the presenters introduced the teams and the captains, the loudest cheer of the night was reserved for Pakistan T20 captain, Shahid Afridi.
The ceremony was highlighted by performances from Pakistani stars Mohib Mirza and Sanam Saeed followed by famous musician Sean Paul and Pakistan's very own 'rockstar' Ali Zafar.
Sean who hails from Jamaica, was also joined by West Indian cricketers Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy and Jason Holder on the stage as the cricketers entertained the crowd with their other talents.
What is the PSL?
The PSL is Pakistan's first franchise-based league, featuring five teams, and has provided emerging as well as established cricketers with a lucrative opportunity to display their Twenty20 talent during the extravaganza which continues till February 23.
The long-awaited first edition of the Pakistan Super League follows two previous attempts that fell through over a lack of sponsorship and the suspension of international cricket at home in the wake of a militant attack on the Sri Lankan team almost seven years ago.
With Pakistan's once-dominant Twenty20 side sliding to a lowly seventh place in world rankings following a their recent series loss against New Zealand, organisers are keen for local talent to hone their skills alongside the world's best players including Chris Gayle, Kevin Pietersen and Shane Watson.
Featuring 69 local and 29 foreign stars, the five-team, 24-match league will be held from February 4-23 across two stadiums in Sharjah and Dubai — Pakistan's “home away from home” since the 2009 terror attack.
The teams were sold to private consortiums for a sum of $93 million across 10 years, with $200,000 salaries for top-tier players and relatively handsome paydays for middle-tier and emerging talent.
The winning side, meanwhile, will bring home $1 million.