Despite hurdles HBL PSL 6 set to resume on Wednesday
The HBL Pakistan Super League is a resilient event that gets stronger and bigger each year.
The 2021 edition is a perfect example of this statement when its resumption overcame all logistical and operational challenges and hurdles to be ready to reconnect with its fans and supporters. HBL PSL 6 will now dominate the television screens over the next 16 days at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi.
On Wednesday, Lahore Qalandars and Islamabad United will go toe to toe with the match to start at 2100 PKT time (2000 UAE time). This will be their first encounter in the HBL PSL 6 with their repeat match scheduled for Sunday, 13 June.
Both Qalandars and United, along with Karachi Kings and Peshawar Zalmi, are locked at six points apiece. But, the two sides have played one less match as compared with Kings and Zalmi, meaning Wednesday’s winner will go top of the points table after halfway stage in the competition.
The HBL PSL is returning to UAE where it was born in 2016. The 2017 edition’s final was held in Lahore.
The last three games of the 2018 edition were held in Pakistan, last eight matches of the 2019 event were held in Karachi despite the closure of air corridors and operational challenges following the Pulwama incident.
The entire 2020 tournament was held from start to finish across four Pakistan venues despite an interruption due to the Covid-19 outbreak. In the 2020 tournament, a large number of foreign internationals participated, including those who had previously refused to travel to Pakistan.
Their participation was a testament and endorsement of the security situation in Pakistan as well as trust and confidence over Pakistan’s security as well as the Pakistan Cricket Board.
The challenges from the remaining 20 HBL PSL 6 matches emanated from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India and South Africa being on the United Arab Emirates’ red-list. A number of exemptions and approvals were obtained, some of which were revoked at the last-minute.
Nevertheless, with the support of the Abu Dhabi and Pakistan Governments, Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the Emirates Cricket Board, the PCB was able to resolve all outstanding matters and is now ready to take this thrilling and fast-paced cricket to its fans through digital media as the event will be held in front of empty stands.
However, the PCB has committed that the 2022 tournament will be held in Pakistan and with the improved Covid-19 situation, it is envisaged the matches will be in front of the crowds.
A number of leading international stars will be featuring in the remaining 20 matches, including Usman Khawaja (Islamabad United), Faf du Plessis (Quetta Gladiators), Martin Guptill (Karachi Kings), David Miller (Peshawar Zalmi), Shimron Hetmyer (Multan Sultans) and Rashid Khan (Lahore Qalandars).
They will be joined by Pakistan’s white-ball experts as well as emerging stars, including Babar Azam, Arshad Iqbal, Azam Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sharjeel Khan and Usman Qadir.
These players have been named in Pakistan men’s squads for the three T20Is against England and five T20Is against world champions the West Indies.
Like the tours to England and the West Indies and upcoming home series against New Zealand and England, the HBL PSL 6 will help the players as well as selectors and coaching staff to edge closer to giving final shape to their side for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, which is expected to be played in the UAE.
The event is ready, the players are raring to go and so are the fans to get behind their favourite cricketers and side as the next 16 days, the talk will be HBL PSL 6 and who will be lift the glittering trophy on 24 June under Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium lights. For now, both Qalandars and United’s camps are ready for the action on Wednesday night.
Lahore Qalandars captain Sohail Akhtar: “We are really excited about restarting the HBL PSL 6 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi. This venue has been a lucky one both for me and the team.
“We have worked hard and have gauged the conditions well in the last few days. We have a formidable squad despite the changes in our foreign players and we will play the brand of cricket that has helped us make a big impact in the last season as well as the Karachi-leg of the HBL PSL 6.
“All teams are balanced in the tournament and I am sure we will see some real quality cricket, in the Qalandars camp, we are fully focussed on winning the trophy.”
Assistant Coach Islamabad United Saeed Ajmal: “We have been practicing for the last four, five days, the team looks well prepared and gelled together. We are fully prepared for the match tomorrow, having practiced hard under the floodlights too. We have gauged the conditions well and hope to give our best on Wednesday.
“Our players look fit and are raring to go, Hasan Ali has looked in great form and rhythm and so has Faheem Ashraf. Colin Munro has also looked in good shape in the nets. I am very confident that we will give Lahore Qalandars a tough time in the match.”
HBL PSL 6 squads for Abu Dhabi-leg:
Final squads (in alphabetical order):
Islamabad United – Shadab Khan (c), Ahmed Saifi Abdullah, Ali Khan, Akif Javed, Asif Ali, Brandon King, Colin Munro, Fawad Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Mohammad Akhlaq, Musa Khan, Rohail Nazir, Umar Amin, Usman Khawaja, Zafar Gohar and Zeeshan Zameer
Karachi Kings - Imad Wasim (c), Abbas Afridi, Amir Yamin, Arshad Iqbal, Babar Azam, Chadwick Walton, Danish Aziz, Martin Guptill, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Ilyas, Mohammad Haris, Thisara Perera, Najeebullah Zadran, Noor Ahmed, Qasim Akram, Sharjeel Khan, Waqas Maqsood and Zeeshan Malik
Lahore Qalandars – Sohail Akhtar (c), Ahmed Danyal, Ben Dunk, Callum Ferguson, Dilbar Hussain, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, James Faulkner, Maaz Khan, Mohammad Faizan, Mohammad Hafeez, Rashid Khan, Salman Ali Agha, Seekuge Prasana, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sultan Ahmed, Tim David, Zaid Alam and Zeeshan Ashraf
Multan Sultans – Mohammad Rizwan (c), Asif Afridi, Hammad Azam, Imran Tahir, Imran Khan Snr, Johnson Charles, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Umar, Blessing Muzarabani, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Rilee Rossouw, Shahnawaz Dhani, Shan Masood, Shimron Hetmyer (partially available), Sohaib Maqsood, Sohaibullah, Sohail Khan, Sohail Tanvir, Usman Qadir and Muhammad Waseem
Peshawar Zalmi – Wahab Riaz (c), Abrar Ahmed, Amad Butt, Bismillah Khan, David Miller (partially available), Fabian Allen (partially available), Fidel Edwards (partially available), Haider Ali, Hazratullah Zazai, Imam-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Amir Khan, Mohammad Irfan Snr, Mohammad Imran Jnr, Mohammad Imran Randhawa, Rovman Powell, Sherfane Rutherford, Shoaib Malik, Umaid Asif and Waqar Salamkheil
Quetta Gladiators – Sarfaraz Ahmed (c), Abdul Nasir, Andre Russell (partially available), Arish Ali Khan, Azam Khan, Cameron Delport, Faf du Plessis, Hassan Khan, Jack Wildermuth, Jake Weatherald, Khurram Shehzad, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Usman Khan, Usman Shinwari, Zahid Mahmood and Zahir Khan