Karachi, Jan 13 (IANS) The Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2024 season will begin from February 17 in Lahore, with two-time winners and defending champions Lahore Qalandars taking on winners of the 2016 and 2018 editions Islamabad United.
The marquee event will be played in four cities – Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi – with the final of the six-team tournament taking place at the National Bank Stadium in Karachi on 18 March.
However, this season brought an unexpected twist as it coincided with the final of the UAE’s ILT20, causing a scheduling clash that cast a shadow over the participation of several key players. The ILT20 final is due to take place in Dubai at the same time.
The clash posed a dilemma for franchises in both leagues, particularly for those with players holding contracts in the ILT20. Notably, five Pakistani talents – Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shadab Khan, Azam Khan, and Mohammad Amir, all representing Desert Vipers, along with Imad Wasim, a recent acquisition by Abu Dhabi Knight Riders – found themselves in a bind, with their availability for the latter stages of the ILT20 hanging in the balance.
Overseas players were not exempt from the scheduling conundrum, and their participation in either the initial matches of the PSL or the crucial final stages of the ILT20 remained uncertain, contingent on contract terms and their respective franchises’ progress.
Despite these challenges, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) unveiled the full PSL schedule, with the tournament’s final slated for March 18. Karachi, hosting the knockout stages for the first time since 2020, would witness a total of 11 games, while Lahore, Rawalpindi, and Multan would also play host to thrilling encounters. Strikingly, Quetta and Peshawar were excluded from hosting fixtures, sparking varied reactions among cricket enthusiasts.
Zaka Ashraf, chair of the PCB’s management committee, justified the multi-city hosting approach, expressing a commitment to bringing top-tier cricket to fans across the nation. “Hosting matches in these venues not only adds to the excitement for fans but also promotes cricket at the grassroots level,” Ashraf proclaimed.
Amidst the league’s buzz, the PCB announced a groundbreaking broadcast deal for the 2024 and 2025 editions of the PSL. The live-streaming rights saw a staggering 113% increase in value, while broadcast rights surged by 45%, marking an unprecedented milestone in the league’s growth. Ashraf hailed the moment, stating, “This is a testament to the growth of the HBL PSL brand.”
In parallel, the cricketing landscape for women was set to flourish with the initiation of the National Women’s T20 Tournament starting on January 15. Featuring six regional teams – Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta, and Rawalpindi – the tournament aimed to provide a platform for players to stake a claim in the national team ahead of a busy international year, including the Asia Cup and T20 World Cup scheduled for September-October.