LAHORE: Due to Covid-19 pandemic the Pakistan Cricket Board’s plan to hold matches of the 2021 HBL Pakistan Super League at five centres instead of four, has now been reduced to just two — Karachi and Lahore — as the PCB on Friday announced the schedule of the league starting on Feb 20.
Last year, the PCB staged all the 34 PSL matches at four centres — Lahore, Karachi, Multan and Rawalpindi, and succeeded in holding the entire league in Pakistan for the first time since its inception in 2016.
For 2021, the sixth edition of the league, the PCB initially planned to extend the venue list by including Peshawar. However, as the Covid-19 is still looming and therefore as part of safety measures, the Board has decided to hold all 2021 PSL matches only in Karachi and Lahore.
According to the schedule announced by the PCB on Friday, defending champions Karachi Kings face 2019 winners Quetta Gladiators in the opening PSL fixture at the National Stadium, Karachi on Feb 20.
Karachi, Lahore to stage matches in two phases
The matches in Karachi continue till March 7 before the action shifts to Lahore for the second phase of the league from March 10 when Peshawar Zalmi face Karachi Kings at the Gaddafi Stadium.
The 34-match event ends with the final at the Gaddafi Stadium on March 22.
“To safeguard the integrity of the HBL PSL 2021 and to ensure health and safety of all participants in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the PCB has decided to hold the matches in Karachi and Lahore only. The National Stadium will stage the first half of the competition, while the Pakistan cricket headquarters at the Gaddafi Stadium will be the venue of the second half of the competition, including the playoffs,” a PCB press release stated.
The PCB, however, kept the decision pending regarding allowing the spectators to come to the stadium to watch the matches, due to Covid-19.
The foreign players competing in the league will arrive in Karachi with a negative PCR test and they will have to clear back-to-back PCR tests upon their arrival, before getting permission to start training.
Schedule of matches at National Stadium, Karachi:
Feb 20: Karachi Kings vs Quetta Gladiators (N)
Feb 21: Lahore Qalandars vs Peshawar Zalmi (D); Islamabad United vs Multan Sultans (N)
Feb 22: Lahore Qalandars vs Quetta Gladiators (N)
Feb 23: Peshawar Zalmi v Multan Sultans (N)
Wed, 24 Feb - Karachi Kings v Islamabad United (N)
Feb 26: Lahore Qalandars vs Multan Sultans (D); Peshawar Zalmi vs Quetta Gladiators (N)
Feb 27: Karachi Kings vs Multan Sultans (D); Peshawar Zalmi vs Islamabad United (N)
Feb 28: Karachi Kings vs Lahore Qalandars (N)
March 1: Islamabad United vs Quetta Gladiators (N)
March 3: Karachi Kings vs Peshawar Zalmi (D); Quetta Gladiators vs Multan Sultans (N)
March 4: Lahore Qalandars vs Islamabad United (N)
March 5: Multan Sultans vs Karachi Kings (N)
March 6: Islamabad United vs Quetta Gladiators (D); Peshawar Zalmi vs Lahore Qalandars (N)
March 7: Multan Sultans vs Quetta Gladiators (D); Islamabad United vs Karachi Kings (N)
Schedule of matches at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore:
March 10: Peshawar Zalmi vs Karachi Kings (N)
March 11: Quetta Gladiators vs Lahore Qalandars (N)
March 12: Multan Sultans vs Peshawar Zalmi (D); Islamabad United vs Lahore Qalandars (N)
March 13: Quetta Gladiators vs Karachi Kings (D); Multan Sultans vs Islamabad United (N)
March 14: Quetta Gladiators vs Peshawar Zalmi (D); Lahore Qalandars vs Karachi Kings (N)
March 15: Islamabad United vs Peshawar Zalmi (N)
March 16: Multan Sultans vs Lahore Qalandars (N)
March 18: Qualifier (1 vs 2) (N)
March 19: Eliminator 1 (3 vs 4) (N)
March 20: Eliminator 2 (Loser of Qualifier vs Winner of Eliminator 1) (N)
March 22: Final (N).
Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2021