Pakistan Super League 2021: Who to watch and how it works
The Pakistan Super League begins on Saturday when defending champions Karachi Kings face Quetta Gladiators.
Six teams – packed with Pakistan players and overseas stars – will play a total of 34 Twenty20 games in just over a month as they aim to reach the final on 22 March.
All matches will be played in bio-secure bubbles, with the first 20 fixtures taking place at Karachi’s National Stadium and the remaining group games, play-offs and final at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
Both venues have been given permission to open their stadiums at 20% capacity, meaning 7,500 fans will be able to attend in Karachi and 5,500 in Lahore.
Meet the teams – and star players
Babar Azam, the Pakistan captain and last season’s leading run-scorer in the PSL, will feature for Karachi Kings, who also have experienced Australia all-rounder and serial T20 winner Dan Christian and Afghanistan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi in their ranks.
South Africa batsman Faf du Plessis – recently retired from Test cricket – joins West Indies star Chris Gayle and England’s Tom Banton at Quetta Gladiators.
Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan, the top-ranked T20 bowler in the world, will line up for last year’s runners-up Lahore Qalanders alongside Pakistan seamer Shaheen Afridi and England batsmen Joe Denly and Somerset’s Tom Abell.
England opener Alex Hales, the leading scorer at this season’s Big Bash League in Australia, will play for Islamabad United alongside England all-rounder Lewis Gregory and Sussex opener Phil Salt.
Peshawar Zalmi have opted for a combination of youth and experience, with exciting 19-year-old Afghanistan off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman joining 40-year-old Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik in the side. England seamer Saqib Mahmood and all-rounder Ravi Bopara are also in the Peshawar squad.
Former Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi, 43, is still plying his trade in franchise cricket and will feature for a Multan Sultans side that also contains England batsman James Vince and Australia’s Chris Lynn.
What is the format?
Franchises will play each other twice in the group stage, with the top four qualifying for the knockout matches.
The top two sides will play in qualifier one for a spot in the final, while the teams who finished third and fourth will play in an eliminator, with the losers being knocked out of the tournament.
The losing side from qualifier one and winning team from the eliminator will have the opportunity to make it through the final when they meet in qualifier two.