The first match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2018 will be held on February 22 in Dubai, with last year's champions, the Peshawar Zalmi facing off against newcomers, the Multan Sultans, according to a schedule released by the franchise on Thursday.

A total of 24 matches will be played across different venues in Dubai, Sharjah, Lahore and Karachi. The final is to be held in Karachi on March 25, according to the PSL schedule.

"Efforts are underway to stage two play-off games in Lahore followed by what would be a historic HBL PSL final in Karachi," a PSL press release said.

PSL franchise Islamabad United owner Ali Naqvi said he was excited about the final being held in Karachi. “It is important to take matches beyond Lahore. We have to go step by step, and we are headed in the right direction."

Islamabad United captain Misbah ul Haq said: “My prime job is to nurture the emerging category players and I think Farhan, Hussain and Husnain have some really exciting talent I can work with."

The season will kick off with a ceremony at the Dubai International Stadium, the handout said.

During the season, all teams will play against each other twice before the top four teams qualify for the play-off stage, the press release said.

Last year, the PSL Season 2 final was held at Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium amid tight security.

It was the second time Pakistan hosted an international series since militants attacked a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in 2009.

Since the success of the PSL 2017 final, Pakistan has hosted a T20 series against the World XI at Gaddafi Stadium.

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