ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Cricket Board has taken another step in its bid to convince foreign teams that it’s safe to play in the country. For the first time, all the matches in Pakistan’s premier domestic Twenty20 tournament will be held in the country, across four major cities.
The PCB announced Wednesday that Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan will host the 34 Pakistan Super League (PSL) games, starting Feb. 20. Lahore has 14 matches, including the final on March 22.
The entire first edition of the PSL in 2016 was staged in the United Arab Emirates before the PCB held the 2017 final at Lahore. In 2018, four matches were organized at Lahore and Karachi — with the rest in the UAE — while last year Karachi hosted eight matches.
A total of 36 foreign players will play this year for six local franchises — Quetta Gladiators, Islamabad United, Multan Sultans, Karachi Kings, Lahore Qalandars and Peshawar Zalmi. Those players include batsman Jason Roy of England, South African pacer Dale Steyn and West Indies batsman Lendl Simmons.
Pakistan has long been trying to win back the confidence of foreign countries. The doors of international cricket were shut on Pakistan after an attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team’s bus at Lahore in 2009. The ambush left eight people dead and several Sri Lanka players and team officials injured.
Over the years Pakistan has hosted Zimbabwe, West Indies, a World XI and Sri Lanka in limited-overs matches before successfully organizing a two-test series against Sri Lanka at Rawalpindi and Karachi last month.
“After bringing test cricket back to Pakistan, hosting of the entire Pakistan Super League is our other major achievement,” PCB chairman Ehsan Mani said in a statement. “I never had any doubts it was Pakistan’s league and should be played in front of home crowds.”
Nine matches will be organized in Karachi, including the opener between Quetta Gladiators and Islamabad United. Rawalpindi, which hosted its first test match last month since 2004, has eight games and Multan three.