LAHORE: The eighth edition of the HBL Pakistan Super League will kick off with defending champions Lahore Qalandars taking on 2021 winners Multan Sultans at the Multan Cricket Stadium on February 13, the Pakistan Cricket Board’s Management Committee’s chairman Najam Sethi announced while revealing the league’s schedule on Friday.
The tournament will be played across four cities — Karachi, Multan, Rawalpindi and Lahore — and will see four sides play five of their league stage matches in front of their home crowd.
Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi, on the other hand, will be deprived of home support due to administrative constraints, which ruled their home cities out of contention of hosting the cash-rich league’s matches.
Following the opening ceremony in Multan — to be held for the first time in the city of Saints — the second match will be played between hosts Karachi Kings and Peshawar Zalmi at the National Stadium the next day. The two cities will host matches until February 26, before the PSL shifts to Lahore and Rawalpindi. The final round-robin match in Lahore is scheduled to be played between Lahore Qalandars and Multan Sultans on March 4 before the tournament returns to the city for its playoffs from March 15.
Meanwhile, the Pindi Cricket Stadium will host all matches, including three Women’s League exhibition games on March 8, 10 and 11.
SECOND TO IPL
Sethi, who took charge of the PCB following the removal of the board’s former chairman Ramiz Raja last month after instructions from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif — the board’s patron, noted the PSL had grew since its inaugural season back in 2016.
Sethi believed that the league was second to only its counterpart across the border — the Indian Premier League — a narrative that has developed after the PSL recorded record increase in commercial revenues following the previous season.
The board’s Management Committee chairman went on to make a tall claim that the other franchise T20 tournaments in the world —Australia’s Big Bash League, South Africa’s SAT20, UAE’s ILT20 and the Bangladesh Premier League — feared competing with the PSL.
“The PSL has established itself as the biggest [T20 league] brand in after the IPL (Indian Premier League) over the years,” Sethi said.
“There are four leagues ongoing at the moment — in Bangladesh, Australia, UAE and South Africa — and all of them have planned it before the PSL.
“Perhaps they knew that they will not be able to compete [with PSL] both in terms of prestige and value. That is a sign that the PSL is really flying.”
Sethi shrugged off reports about the six PSL franchises’ disagreement with the PCB over the league’s business model and their share from the central revenue pool of the tournament.
The Management Committee chairman said the representatives of the franchises hadn’t yet expressed any complaints since he assumed the PCB’s charge and that the relationship had been healthy so far.
“I used to think there were some running problems between the PCB and the franchises but during my meeting with them my impression was that they were happy,” said Sethi.
“When I looked into the matter, I got to know that they were happy because our central pool has increased by 60 per cent and 95 per cent of that goes to them. I don’t think that there are any major issues now.”
Sethi, however, admitted that the franchises are not yet ready to let the PCB add more teams to the PSL and said negotiations over the matter are due.
“There is an issue, though, when it comes to the seventh and eighth team and I’ll be negotiating with the franchises on this,” he said.
“I think there should be eight teams and we’ll see how we can do that in a way that keeps the fans happy and benefits the franchises and our cricket in general as well. I think there will be some new developments on this next year.”
Sethi was able to return to the PCB on the basis of the prime minister’s decision and he believed that the country’s premier, according to the board’s constitution, had the right to appoint the chairman.
This is a trend that has been criticised over the years and has led to abrupt decisions that have disrupted the cricket system in the country, especially the domestic structure.
It happened again after Sethi’s return, with his Management Committee tasked with reinstating the PCB’s 2014 constitution, which also meant the restoration of departments and regions after they were replaced by provincial sides during Imran Khan’s reign as the prime minister from 2018.
“It’s unfortunate that we haven’t yet settled the issues regarding our domestic structure, said Sethi.
“There was never a controversy about the domestic cricket system involving departments and regions. It was wrapped up abruptly and that too without replacing it with a sustainable system.
“It’s hard to stop such mistakes, the person who is in Islamabad has a vision and it is their right too since they are elected.”
Sethi said he had no problems with resigning as the PCB chief if the next prime minister wanted to bring his own people.
“When the government changes, the PCB chairman should resign no matter how much time he has stayed in the position,” said the 74-year-old.
“If the patron wants him back, he can come back, otherwise the patron can put his own team in. Whenever a new patron comes in, I’ll go home.”
Feb 13: Multan Sultans vs Lahore Qalandars, Multan Cricket Stadium, Multan
Feb 14: Karachi Kings vs Peshawar Zalmi, National Bank Cricket Arena, Karachi
Feb 15: Multan Sultans vs Quetta Gladiators, Multan Cricket Stadium, Multan
Feb 16: Karachi Kings vs Islamabad United, National Bank Cricket Arena, Karachi
Feb 17: Multan Sultans vs Peshawar Zalmi, Multan Cricket Stadium, Multan
Feb 18: Karachi Kings vs Quetta Gladiators, National Stadium, Karachi
Feb 19: Multan Sultans vs Islamabad United, Multan Cricket Stadium, Multan; Karachi Kings vs Lahore Qalandars, National Stadium, Karachi
Feb 20: Quetta Gladiators vs Peshawar Zalmi, National Stadium, Karachi
Feb 21: Quetta Gladiators vs Lahore Qalandars, National Stadium, Karachi
Feb 22: Multan Sultans vs Karachi Kings, Multan Cricket Stadium, Multan
Feb 23: Peshawar Zalmi vs Islamabad United, National Stadium, Karachi
Feb 24: Quetta Gladiators vs Islamabad United, National Stadium, Karachi
Feb 26: Karachi Kings vs Multan Sultans, National Stadium, Karachi; Lahore Qalandars vs Peshawar Zalmi, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Feb 27: Lahore Qalandars vs Islamabad United, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Mar 1: Peshawar Zalmi vs Karachi Kings, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
Mar 2: Lahore Qalandars vs Quetta Gladiators, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Mar 3: Islamabad United vs Karachi Kings, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
Mar 4: Lahore Qalandars vs Multan Sultans, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Mar 5: Islamabad United vs Quetta Gladiators, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
Mar 6: Quetta Gladiators vs Karachi Kings, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
Mar 7: Peshawar Zalmi vs Lahore Qalandars, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi; Islamabad United vs Multan Sultans, Pindi Cricket Stadium
Mar 8: Peshawar Zalmi vs Quetta Gladiators, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
Mar 9: Islamabad United vs Lahore Qalandars, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
Mar 10: Peshawar Zalmi vs Multan Sultans, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
Mar 11: Quetta Gladiators vs Multan Sultans, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
Mar 12: Islamabad United vs Peshawar Zalmi, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi; Lahore Qalandars vs Karachi Kings, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Mar 15: Qualifier, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Mar 16: Eliminator 1, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Mar 17: Eliminator 2, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Mar 19: Final, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore.
Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2023