PSL8 opens with grand ceremony in Multan
The opening ceremony of the 8th edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) began on Monday with the singer Aima Baig’s rendition of national anthem. Defending champions Lahore Qalandars and Multan Sultans would compete in the opening match.
Habib Bank Limited (HBL) President and CEO Muhammad Aurangzeb, who spoke first, congratulated the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for organising the tournament for the eighth time. He thanked the board chairman for delivering a “successful tournament” year after year.
“We are doing a historic first in terms of having the inauguration match of the PSL in Multan this evening. HBL PSL has moved from strength to strength. All the stakeholders have put a concerted effort to make this a success,” he said.
PCB Chairman Najam Sethi in his speech said the international cricket league would be expanded to the venues of Quetta and Peshawar in the next stage. He arrived with Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Rizwan, captains of the two teams facing each other today.
The cricket board has changed the coveted trophy of the current edition. It has been brought from France, the board chairman said and reminded the crowd of the long journey of the league that is being started for the first in Punjab city Multan.
He hailed the league for producing great talents in form of Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shadab Khan, and many more. Sethi, who is at the helm of PCB for the second time, expressed hope that the league would continue to shine.
“Yeh sab sitaray hamary hain. Let the play begin,” he said before taking leave. As he left, the hologram of the PSL 8 logo depicting the colours of all the teams emerged.
Later, singer and composer Sahir Ali Bagga with Aima Baig performed at the backdrop of the screen showing different floral patterns. They performed their hit numbers from Coke Studio: Baazi and Dhola.
Bagga also charged the crowd with his famous song Pakistan Zindabad as the crowd echoed the slogan.
Then, the podium was given to the singers who sang the anthem of PSL8. Shae Gill, Asim Azhar, and Faris Shafi sand the anthem Sab Sitaray Humaray.
Pakistan cricket’s biggest event
PSL is the biggest national-level cricket festival in the country. Grounds have been decorated in four cities - Karachi, Multan, Lahore and Rawalpindi - and a total of six teams will compete for the trophy.
The tournament kicked off in Multan with an opening ceremony, where the cricket fans all around the world saw spectacular performances by different artists and one of the major attractions would be the performances of the singers of the PSL8 anthem - Abdullah Siddiqui, Asim Azhar, Faris Shafi and Shae Gill.
Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi will also host the matches of the eighth edition of the HBL PSL, which promises to be as exciting as the last seven.
Karachi’s National Bank Cricket Arena will play host to the second match of the tournament when the hosts, Karachi Kings, lock horns with Peshawar Zalmi. This match and the tournament opener will begin at 2000 with the toss at 1930.
Here are the complete fixtures
Quetta Gladiators begin their campaign in Multan on 15 February and Islamabad United play their first match of the season on 16 February in Karachi.
Action will move to northern half of the country from 26 February with Lahore and Rawalpindi hosting the latter part of the tournament. Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium, Pakistan’s home of cricket, will host the four playoffs and the final, besides five league stage games and Rawalpindi will stage 11 matches.
The winner of the 19 March final at the Gaddafi Stadium will not only lift the Supernova Trophy but will also collect a cheque of PKR120m, while the runners-up will receive a cheque of PKR48m.
Shaheen Afridi, the captain of Lahore Qalandars, says that being the defending champion, he is very excited and will make a good start in the event with an aim to defeat the top order of Multan Sultans.
Qalandar’s aggressive batsman Fakhr Zaman said that Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf have won many matches for Lahore Qalandar.
On the other hand, Multan Sultans captain Muhammad Rizwan see Shaheen Afridi and Haris as top class bowlers and a major challenge. “We have to prepare a strategy against them and play boldly. We hope that a good crowd will come to watch the match and get support,” he said.
A look at PSL8’s commentary panel and match officials
A look at the winners
All six franchises have won the PSL title at least once, which underscores the quality of all six sides and the higher level of competition in the tournament.
Islamabad United, the inaugural champions, are the only side to win the HBL PSL title twice (the second time in 2018).
Peshawar Zalmi won the 2017 edition. Quetta Gladiators, who were the finalists in the first two editions, won the 2019 competition.
Karachi Kings were the first side to win to lift the trophy at their home when they rolled over Lahore Qalandars in Karachi in 2020. Multan Sultans bagged their maiden title in 2021.
Last year, Lahore Qalandars lifted the HBL PSL trophy in Lahore.
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