The seventh season of the Pakistan Super League commences on Thursday, with a mixture of optimism and fear of the unknown. First, the good news. This edition of the PSL will see the ICC cricketer of the year, the T20 and the ODI batsmen of 2021 all competing together.
Last year was an unprecedented success for Pakistan in white-ball cricket and that was reflected in the International Cricket Council’s annual awards, where left-arm pacer Shahen Afridi was selected as the best men’s player of the year, while captain Babar Azam was picked as the ODI cricketer and wicketkeeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan the T20 player of the year. All three will be in action during PSL 2022, which commences on January 27 in Karachi and ends on February 27 in Lahore.
Now for the worrisome bit. The continuing pandemic means there is a high probability of positive cases and even an outbreak. The Pakistan Cricket Board had formed a comprehensive protocol to ensure the PSL is held and completed within the 30 days as any postponement will almost certainly lead to the league’s cancellation because the international calendar does not have any other slots to ensure player availability.
Still, expectations are high with the Pakistan board determined to complete the tournament, stating that teams need only 13 players who are Covid negative to compete. Last year, the PSL was postponed after a coronavirus outbreak and was concluded in Abu Dhabi, with Multan Sultans defeating Peshawar Zalmi by 47 runs to lift the title.
PSL 2022 begins at the National Stadium in Karachi on Thursday, January 27, with the first 15 matches to be held at the venue. The tournament then moves to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore which will hold the remainder of the matches, including the final on February 27.
It’s quite comprehensive. There will be dedicated bio-bubbles with players, support staff, officials, broadcast crew, and all essential members such as hotel staff are separated in a way that any positive case does not immediately spread throughout the league — as had happened in previous tournaments. Teams have 20 players on their roster with an additional pool of players to draw from, in case their first picks are sidelined.
Players will be tested regularly during the tournament. In the event of an outbreak, the tournament will be halted for seven days, the bio-bubbles will be reset and the remaining fixtures completed via double headers. There are a few changes on the field. Pakistan captain Babar has been named Karachi Kings’ captain, taking over from Imad Wasim who guided them to the 2020 title. Also, veteran star Shahid Afridi will represent Quetta Gladiators in what will be his farewell PSL appearance after representing Multan Sultan last year.
There’s more. Fielding sides will be punished for maintaining slow over rates. If they fail to bowl the first ball of the final over of the innings by the scheduled time, one fewer fielder will be permitted outside of the 30-yard circle for the remaining overs of the innings. Also, stipulations regarding number of local and overseas players in a team will be removed in case the available pool of players shrinks due to a virus outbreak.
Karachi Kings Babar Azam (c), Amir Yamin, Chris Jordan, Imad Wasim, Joe Clarke, Lewis Gregory, Mohammad Amir, Jordan Thompson, Mohammad Ilyas, Mohammad Nabi, Rohail Nazir, Muhammad Imran, Qasim Akram, Romario Shepherd, Faisal Akram, Sahibzada Farhan, Sharjeel Khan, Talha Ahsan, Tom Abell, Umaid Asif.
Islamabad United Shadab Khan (c), Alex Hales, Asif Ali, Ather Mehmood, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Azam Khan, Danish Aziz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Colin Munro, Marchant De Lange, Mohammad Akhlaq, Musa Khan, Paul Stirling, Mubasir Khan, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Reece Topley, Zahir Khan, Zafar Gohar, Zeeshan Zameer.
Multan Sultans Mohammad Rizwan (c), Abbas Afridi, Amir Azmat, Anwar Ali, Asif Afridi, Blessing Muzarabani, David Willey, Ihsanullah, Imran Khan Snr, Imran Tahir, Khushdil Shah, Odean Smith, Rilee Rossouw, Rizwan Hussain, Rovman Powell, Rumman Raees, Shahnawaz Dahani, Shan Masood, Sohaib Maqsood, Tim David.
Peshawar Zalmi Wahab Riaz (c), Aarish Ali Khan, Arshad Iqbal, Shoaib Malik, Hazratullah Zazai, Saqib Mahmood, Hussain Talat, Ben Cutting, Haider Ali, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Umar, Salman Irshad, Liam Livingstone, Sameen Gul, Sherfane Rutherford, Sirajuddin, Sohail Khan, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Usman Qadir.
Lahore Qalandars Shaheen Shah Afridi (c), Abdullah Shafiq, Phil Salt, Akif Javed, Dawid Wiese, Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Daniyal, Dean Foxcroft, Haris Rauf, Harry Brook, Fakhar Zaman, Imran Randhawa, Kamran Ghulam, Maaz Khan, Rashid Khan, Samit Patel, Syed Faridoun, Sohail Akhtar, Zaman Khan, Zeeshan Ashraf.
Quetta Gladiators Sarfaraz Ahmed (c), Ahsan Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Hasnain, Ben Duckett, Abdul Wahid Bangalzai, Dan Lawrence, Ghulam Mudassar, Iftikhar Ahmed, James Faulkner, James Vince, Jason Roy, Khurram Shehzad, Muhammad Ashar Qureshi, Naseem Shah, Naveen ul Haq, Noor Ahmad, Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Akmal.
Here is the full and final schedule of PSL 2022:
Thursday, Jan 27
6pm (UAE time) :Karachi Kings v Multan Sultans, National Stadium, Karachi
Friday, Jan 28
6pm :Quetta Gladiators v Peshawar Zalmi, National Stadium, Karachi
Saturday, Jan 29
1pm: Multan Sultans v Lahore Qalandars, Karachi
6pm: Karachi Kings v Quetta Gladiators, Karachi
Sunday, Jan 30
1pm: Peshawar Zalmi v Islamabad United, Karachi
6pm: Karachi Kings v Lahore Qalandars, Karachi
Monday, Jan 31
6pm: Quetta Gladiators v Multan Sultans, Karachi
Tuesday, Feb 1
6pm: Islamabad United v Multan Sultans, Karachi
Wednesday, Feb 2
6pm: Peshawar Zalmi v Lahore Qalandars, Karachi
Thursday, Feb 3
6pm: Quetta Gladiators v Islamabad United, Karachi
Friday, Feb 4
6pm: Karachi Kings v Peshawar Zalmi, Karachi
Saturday, Feb 5
1pm: Islamabad United v Lahore Qalandars, Karachi
6pm: Peshawar Zalmi v Multan Sultans, Karachi
Sunday, Feb 6
6pm: Karachi Kings v Islamabad United, Karachi
Monday, Feb 7
6pm: Quetta Gladiators v Lahore Qalandars, Karachi
Thursday, Feb 10
6pm: Multan Sultans v Peshawar Zalmi, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Friday, Feb 11
6pm: Lahore Qalandars v Multan Sultans, Lahore
Saturday, Feb 12
6pm: Islamabad United v Quetta Gladiators, Lahore
Sunday, Feb 13
1pm: Peshawar Zalmi v Karachi Kings, Lahore
6pm: Lahore Qalandars v Quetta Gladiators, Lahore
Monday, Feb 14
6pm: Islamabad United v Karachi Kings, Lahore
Tuesday, Feb 15
6pm: Peshawar Zalmi v Quetta Gladiators, Lahore
Wednesday, Feb 16
6pm: Multan Sultans v Karachi Kings, Lahore
Thursday, Feb 17
6pm: Islamabad United v Peshawar Zalmi, Lahore
Friday, Feb 18
2pm: Multan Sultans v Quetta Gladiators, Lahore
7pm: Lahore Qalandars v Karachi Kings, Lahore
Saturday, Feb 19
6pm: Lahore Qalandars v Islamabad United, Lahore
Sunday, Feb 20
1pm: Quetta Gladiators v Karachi Kings, Lahore
6pm: Multan Sultans v Islamabad United, Lahore
Monday, Feb 21
6pm: Lahore Qalandars v Peshawar Zalmi, Lahore
Wednesday, Feb 23
6pm: Qualifier, Lahore
Thursday, Feb 24
6pm: Eliminator 1, Lahore
Friday, Feb 25
6pm: Eliminator 2, Lahore
Sunday, Feb 27
6pm: Final, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore