Dubai Sports City is gearing up as it prepares to host to this weekend the HBL Pakistan Super League at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium for the third successive year.
The seminal sporting event will see six of the best teams from the world of Pakistani cricket battle it out for supremacy at this world-class venue in bid to take home the coveted PSL Trophy.
In addition to defending champions Peshawar Zalmi (captained by Darren Sammy), the series includes regulars Lahore Qalandars, Karachi Kings, Islamabad United, and Quetta Gladiators. Joining the series for the first time will be the Multan Sultans, led by their new captain Shoaib Malik.
The spectators are guaranteed to catch their favourite star players in actions, as the 2018 tournament includes Brendon McCullum, Darren Sammy, Shahid Afridi, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Misbah ul Haq, Shoaib Malik, Kevin Peterson, Mohammed Amir, Hassan Ali, and Kieron Pollard.
They will all be fighting for the chance to win a range of beautifully designed trophies by Swarovski that include the Championship Trophy, Player of the Tournament, Best Player on the Field, Best Bowler of the Tournament, Best Batsman of the Tournament, the Safest Hand Award, as well as the Spirit of the Tournament Award.
The trophy was unveiled on Wednesday at Dubai International Stadium after it was delivered by helicopter to defending captain Darren Sammy of Peshawar Zalmi, who arrived with the five other team captains in an Uber Limousine, flanked by two Tesla vehicles.
As preparations are finalised for the tournament, Dubai Sports City’s own ICC Academy has welcomed all the teams daily to train in their gym facilities and on their grounds, either in their own personal training sessions, in intra-team matches, or in practice matches with other teams.
The opening ceremony of the event commences at 6pm on Thursday the 22nd, and will feature performances by Jason Derulo, Ali Zafar, Abida Praveen, Shehzad Roy, and the Sachal Performance Orchestra, with organisers promising some additional surprise entertainment elements.
The ceremony will raise the curtain on the first match of the tournament between defending champions Peshawar Zalmi and Multan Sultans, taking place between 9pm to 12:30am.
Defending champions Peshawar Zalmi will hope for a smooth start to their title defence when they take on debutants Multan Sultans in the opening match of the third edition of the Pakistan Super League on Thursday.
Peshawar, led by charismatic West Indies all-rounder Darren Sammy, have obvious playing experience but Multan have a settled unit as well.
Led by all-rounder Shoaib Malik, Multan have fine hitting power at the top of the order in Ahmed Shehzad and Shan Masood along with Kieron Pollard in the middle.
Malik will rely on the experience of left-arm seamer Sohail Tanvir and South African leggie Imran Tahir to lead the way with the ball. However, Tahir hasn’t had the greatest of seasons.
Peshawar, on the other hand, have a stronger bowling attack with Hasan Ali and Wahab Riaz leading the pace battery. Mohammad Hafeez, Tamim Iqbal and Haris Sohail provide solidity in the batting department.
The match will start at 21:00 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, after a star-studded opening ceremony that is scheduled to kick off at 19:00.
Renowned Sufi singer Abida Parveen, American artist Jason Derulo and fellow singers Ali Zafar and Shehzad Roy will usher in the third edition of the tournament. Also, the Sachal Orchestra will perform folk songs at the venue.
Australia’s injury-prone top order batsman Chris Lynn has suffered another major fitness setback after he dislocated his shoulder while diving during the T20 tri-series final against New Zealand on Wednesday, ruling him out of a PSL stint with Lahore Qalandars and potentially jeopardising his IPL prospects as well.
Cricket Australia confirmed that Lynn will return to Brisbane to undergo further assessment after he dislocated his right shoulder at Eden Park.
Australia physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said: “Chris dislocated his right shoulder after landing awkwardly on it when fielding the ball. His shoulder was able to be put back into place at the ground and he was consequently sent for X-Rays which revealed no major bone injury.
“At this stage Chris will not travel to the Pakistan Super League in Dubai. He will return to Brisbane to undergo further scans and assessment and from there we will have a better understanding of the ongoing management, along with the return to play time frames.”
Speaking on his injury, Lynn said: “I’m disappointed to not go to the Pakistan Super League as planned, but I’ll now focus on rehabilitation and working as hard as I can, with the hope to still take part in the Indian Premier League later this year.”
It is a major blow for Lahore on the eve of the opening game of PSL which starts in Dubai on Thursday. He is a marquee name in T20 cricket and his latest injury blow will be a concern for the Qalandars and IPL side Kolkata Knight Riders, who not only plan to have Lynn as the batting mainstay for the tournament, which starts on April 7, but are also considering him for captaincy.
Kolkata paid $1.5 million (Dh5.5m) for Lynn’s services during the player auction in January and with his latest injury, now face a serious issue in the batting and leadership departments. Lynn injured his left shoulder three times in recent seasons and underwent surgery every time. He has also struggled with separate calf and hamstring issues.