The Pakistan Cricket Board unveiled its preliminary plans for the Pakistan Super League on Sunday, including announcing Kevin Pietersen, Shakib Al Hasan and Dwayne Bravo as headline stars who had confirmed their commitment. In a glitzy event at the Lahore Expo center on Sunday, the board said the five-team T20 event would be held in February 2016 but did not, however, announce the venue of the inaugural edition.
Last week, the PCB confirmed it was in talks with the Emirates Cricket Board over the possibility of hosting the tournament in the UAE, despite confirming earlier that Doha, Qatar would serve as a venue.
Although Pietersen featured on the promotional video, it is understood no deal has been finalised yet. According to those privy to the talks, Pietersen has not signed on any paper yet but is likely to play in the inaugural season of the PSL.
Former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja briefly addressed the gathering. The launch of the tournament logo, with an image of a left-arm bowler, was followed by a video message in which the players, who also included Grant Elliott, Tim Bresnan, Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammyconfirmed their participation in the league.
There were, however, no announcements related to franchise names, broadcasters and the player draft. Younis Khan, who led Pakistan to the World T20 title in 2009, was absent from the event.
The PSL, ESPNcricinfo understands, had initially contacted top agencies handling over 100 international players to consider playing in Pakistan. The response was overwhelmingly negative, which forced the PSL to be held outside Pakistan. The PCB has promised financial packages greater or equal to those offered in the Bangladesh Premier League, Sri Lanka Premier League and the Big Bash League.
The PSL will feature franchise-based teams from the provincial capitals – Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta and Islamabad – with prize money of $1 million. The full schedule is yet to be announced but the window between February 4 and 24 has been reserved for the 24-match event. It is expected that all the matches will be played at a single venue.
If the tournament takes place in Doha, it will be the first major cricket series hosted by the Qatar capital, which will also host the 2022 edition of the football World Cup. The PCB had initially planned on conducting the PSL in the UAE, where Pakistan have been playing their international matches, but they were forced to look for an alternative venue after being told by the Emirates Cricket Board that it was hosting the Masters Champions League (Twenty20 tournament featuring retired cricketers) on the same dates. The PCB and the ECB, however, are looking at hosting the PSL in the UAE if an appropriate scheduling window is available.
Popular Pakistani singer and actor Ali Zafar unveiled the official PSL song at the end of the show, which also featured popular actors like Mahirah Khan, Ayesha Omer, Nadia Hussain and several other Pakistani TV and movie stars.