LAHORE: The Pakistan Super League 2021 (PSL-2021) is all set to start from February 20 as Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced the schedule of the a month long cricket tournament.
The 30-day 34-match tournament will culminate with the final at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on 22 March, marking the first time the venue will stage the final since 2017.
Event schedule (Day matches to start at 2pm; Night matches to start at 7pm; Friday’s double-headers to start at 3pm and 8pm, respectively):
Karachi Kings will begin from where they finished their successful HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 campaign by taking on 2019 champions Quetta Gladiators in the opening fixture of the 2021 edition at the National Stadium on 20 February.
On the following day, 2020 finalists Lahore Qalandars will take on 2017 winners Peshawar Zalmi in a day fixture, while two-time winners Islamabad United will square off against Multan Sultans in the evening.
To safeguard the integrity of the HBL PSL 2021 and to ensure health and safety of all participants in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the PCB has decided to hold the matches in Karachi and Lahore only. The National Stadium will stage the first half of the competition, while the Pakistan cricket headquarters at the Gaddafi Stadium will be the venue of the second half of the competition, including the playoffs.
With regards to crowd attendances, since Covid-19 is an evolving situation, a decision will be made closer to time though the event organisers are continuously monitoring the situation and remain in close contact with the concerned government officials.
While preparing the event schedule, the organisers have ensured each side is playing equal number of day and evening matches. Also, the event organisers have tried to make optimum use of the weekends while scheduling double-headers that will ensure maximum following and coverage.
The Support Period for the HBL PSL 2021 will commence from 15 February and the foreign players competing in the league will arrive into Karachi with a negative PCR test. Upon arrival, they will require two more negative PCR tests before being allowed to train and compete in the competition. The asymptomatic players or support staff returning a positive test will have to serve a five-day isolation period with RT-PCR tests on day one and four.
Babar Hamid, Director – Commercial: “We are delighted to announce the schedule of our marquee event – the HBL Pakistan Super League, which for the second successive season will be held in Pakistan in its entirety.
“We had to make the tough decision to limit matches to Karachi and Lahore, and this decision has been taken in the larger interest of the event, participants and the country. We want to limit the unnecessary exposure of the players as much as practically possible so that the players can operate in a safe and healthy environment that, in turn, will allow them to continue to entertain the fans and followers with their talent, skills and gamesmanship.
“The crowds in Multan and Rawalpindi were awesome last year and we owe a big thanks to them for their contribution in making the HBL PSL 2020 a resounding success. I am sure when life returns to normal, the two cities will get their share of matches as the PCB remains committed and determined to stage matches of the HBL PSL at as many venues as possible.
“Apart from the competitors, the PCB also has a duty of care towards the spectators. Although we have a couple of options on the table, the PCB will continue to monitor the situation and delay the decision as late as possible on crowd attendances as for the PCB, health and lives are of utmost importance.
“As for the six franchisees and the event organisers, the schedule announcement gives them an opportunity to start planning for the tournament. While the six sides will be finalising their squads at the upcoming players’ Draft, the PCB has already been working hard on event planning and now is time to change gears so that we can strengthen our reputation and credibility as a high-performing board.”