Pakistan Super League 2020: Scheduling rejig and Qualification scenarios
Much like it has done to all existing fixtures, the outbreak of the Novel coronavirus has led to a rejig in the schedule of the Pakistan Super League as well. The four-match playoff format has been done away with to save time amid the fear of the virus spreading.
The league will now follow the classic two semi-final and final format to decide the title winner. As opposed to the earlier arrangement in which the knockouts were set to carry on from March 17 to March 22 across Karachi and Lahore, they have been trimmed down to just two days.
The semi-final format will take only two days, with the semis played as double headers. Both the precursors to the all-important final will be held at Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium. The semi-final double-header will be played on March 17 and the final on March 18.
This will save four crucial days and help wrap the tournament up quickly amid the queue of returning overseas players. As many as 14 overseas players have already returned from the PSL. These include Colin Munro, Dawid Malan, Luke Ronchi, Dale Steyn from Islamabad United; Alex Hales from Karachi Kings, Rilee Rossouw and James Vince from Multan Sultans; Tom Banton, Carlos Brathwaite, Liam Dawson, James Foster (coach), Lewis Gregory and Liam Livingstone from Peshawar Zalmi and Jason Roy and Tymal Mills from Quetta Gladiators.
"The decision means the HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 will be reduced by four days and there will now be 33 matches as opposed to 34," a PCB statement said. "According to the revised schedule, the 17 March semi-finals will be double-headers and will be held at the Gaddafi Stadium with the table-toppers going head to head with the fourth-placed side at 2pm. This match will be followed by the second semi-final, which will begin at 7pm, between the second and third-placed sides."
The PCB also said that it had carried out medical tests, and that no player was tested positive for the virus. Lahore Qalandars are the only team to have escaped unaffected from this development. There have been 16 reported cases of coronavirus in Pakistan so far, and most of those are in Karachi, which had a big say in Lahore being given the nod to host all the three big games.
Coming to qualification scenarios, with Multan Sultans having already made the cut with six wins and only one loss from nine games, Karachi Kings are at the pole position for making one of the remaining three semi-final spots. The Kings are yet to play Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators. A win in either of these games will help them end the group stage at the second place.
The team also has a chance of making it through even if they lose both their remains games. That can happen in the case that the Sultans beat the Qalandars. All four teams in contention will then be equal on points and the Kings should still be ahead of the Gladiators on NRR.
Peshawar Zalmi's three-run defeat against Multan Sultans has made the situation tricky for them. With their quota of 10 games completed, they will now depend on other teams. If Lahore Qalandars lose and stay on eight points, Zalmi will easily qualify. Even if Karachi Kings lose both games, Zalmi will still beat the Gladiators on NRR.
Lahore Qalandars, who have 8 points after 9 matches are still due to face Multan Sultans. If they win that game, the team will be through. A loss would mean that they can qualify only if the Kings win both their games.
Islamabad United have their fate in their own hands. The team has seven points after nine games with a fixture against Karachi Kings remaining. They will surely qualify if they win their final league game against the Kings. Even if the Kings lose both games, United will still have the best NRR among those four teams.
Even if Quetta Gladiators go on to win their last game against Karachi Kings, their poor net run rate of -1.052 means that they will have to depend on other results. Qalandars' loss to Sultans will be good news for Quetta.
Pakistan Super League 2020 upcoming schedule:
14 Mar – Karachi Kings v Islamabad United, National Stadium (7pm-5.15pm)
15 Mar – Multan Sultans v Lahore Qalandars, Gaddafi Stadium (2pm-5.15pm);
Quetta Gladiators v Karachi Kings, National Stadium (7pm-10.15pm)
17 March – 1st semi-final, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore (2pm-5.15pm)
2nd semi-final, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore (7pm-10.15pm)
18 March – Final, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore (7pm-10.15pm)
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