By our correspondent
KARACHI: The cricket fever is returning to Karachi as foreign players have started arriving in the port city to feature in the HBL PSL-6 which will explode into action here at the National Stadium from February 20.
Karachi Kings’ three foreign players including Colin Ingram of South Africa, rookie left-arm wrist-spinner Noor Ahmad of Afghanistan and the West Indies stumper and destructive batsman Chadwick Walton have arrived. Also arrived are Kings’ South Afrian head coach Herschelle Gibbs and their Scotish assistant coach Dougie Brown, having played both for England and Scotland.
Kings will begin their title defence when they will be pitted against Quetta Gladiators on February 20.
Former champions Peshawar Zalmi’s head coach Darren Sammy is scheduled to reach Karachi in the night today. English batting allrounder Ravi Bopara will arrive on Saturday (tomorrow) while Mujeeb-ur-Rehman of Afghanistan and Sherfane Rutherford of the West Indies will land here on Sunday.
Zalmi’s skipper Wahab Riaz, Shoaib Malik, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Irfan and Kamran Akmal have joined their squad here.
The players will undergo Covid test and those who would clear it, would become part of the bio-secure bubble.
Former winners Quetta Gladiators’s Chris Gayle and young test cricketer Qais Ahmed of Afghanistan will arrive on Saturday (tomorrow), a source in the Gladiators confirmed. “Barring Pakistan team players who are busy in the T20 series against South Africa at Lahore, the rest of the home-based players will also assemble here tomorrow. Pakistan team players will arrive on Monday,” the Gladiators source said.
The 30-day 34-match event will culminate with the final at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on March 22. It would be the first time Lahore will stage the final since hosting it last in 2017.
Because of the Covid issue this time the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have decided to host the event in Karachi and Lahore. Karachi will host 20 matches from February 20 to March 7 which will also include six double headers while Lahore will host the remaining 14 matches from March 10 to 22 which will also carry three double headers.
The PSL-5 playoffs had been suspended last year because of the Covid issues and they were held in November last year here at the National Stadium as the event ended with a superb maiden title victory from Karachi Kings being skippered by Pakistan’s all formats captain and the world’s renowned batsman Babar Azam who was also declared the best player of the tournament for his wonderful batting. Kings had defeated Lahore Qalandars by five wickets in the final held on November 17, 2020. The playoffs had been held in empty stadium. This time in order to create some thrill the PCB have decided to allow 20 percent fans to witness matches both at Karachi and Lahore which has also created excitement in the fans who have been deprived of witnessing live action for the last one year due to the pandemic.
The franchises will begin their training sessions from February 15. The wickets of the venue are being prepared. A very lush green outfield has already been developed which will bear the burden of hosting 20 matches successively within a space of 16 days.
By our correspondent