Islamabad United players after winning the third edition of the Pakistan Super League at National stadium in Karachi, Pakistan last year. Matches in the UAE will be held from February 14-March 5. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: Pakistan Super League (PSL), which is now a part of the UAE’s sporting and social calendar, is back to host its fourth edition. It is a league which has had to face the toughest of challenges of having to host it out of their country and yet won the hearts of every cricket lover around the world.

Reigning champions Islamabad United will clash with Lahore Qalandars at Dubai International Stadium on Thursday to set the ball rolling. Action will continue in the UAE till March 5 after which the last eight matches, including the final, will move to Pakistan.

The fans in the UAE made sure that players never felt that the league is being held outside Pakistan because they cut across all cricket loving nations to turn out in large numbers to cheer for the teams. The stadiums here provided the best of facilities and that made the players as well as the support staff comfortable. The players in return gave their best and majority of the matches over the years ended in nail-biting finishes. It is with the hope of wanting to witness edge-of –seat thrillers that fans will throng the stadiums for the fourth edition.

Captains of the six teams pose with the glittering HBL PSL winner's trophy produced by Swarovski at the Dubai International Stadium. Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman/Gulf News

What is special about PSL 4?

PSL 4 will be different from the earlier editions as it’s for the first time that the league will be held in all three international venues in the UAE with Abu Dhabi set to stage four matches in March. For the first time, the play-off matches will be held in Pakistan with Karachi and Lahore getting ready to host the matches. Many foreign players have agreed to play in the play offs. The final will be held in Karachi.

Journey of PSL

PSL is a league which had to withstand many obstacles starting with the challenge of hosting in UAE with foreign players refusing to play in the league in Pakistan. The league was established in 2015 and launched the event in February 2016.

Initially, PSL was made up of only five teams named after five famous cities of Pakistan. In 2017, a sixth team was named Multan Sultans. Islamabad United won the inaugural edition in 2016 and is the defending champions. Peshawar Zalmi became the 2017 champions.

Who’s Who of T20

This edition of PSL will be worth watching because the cream of Twenty20 stars from around the world will be playing this edition. The star attraction is AB De Villiers, who will make his debut in the PSL through Lahore Qalandars. Known as ‘Mr 360’ for his ability to hit sixes to any part of the ground, fans are expected to throng the stadium to watch him. His decision to tour Pakistan have thrilled the fans in Pakistan.

The best of support staff are here, starting from legends of the game like Wasim Akram for Karachi Kings. Shahid ‘Boom Boom’ Afridi, who turns 39 on March 1 is still the darling of the crowd here, especially in Sharjah and will be in action for Multan Sultans. Babar Azam and Colin Munro, the first and second ranked players in the ICC T20I rankings, will turn out for Karachi. Fans in the UAE and Pakistan love Darren Sammy, captain of former champions Peshawar Zalmi, and hence fans will turn up in large numbers to cheer for him.

Among the foreign players to watch out for are T20’s most renowned West Indies allrounder Kieron Pollard and England’s Dawid Malan and Chris Jordan, all three will play for Zalmi. The ever-green Australian allrounder Shane Watson for Quetta Gladiators and consistent England allrounder Ravi Bopara for Karachi Kings and West Indies allrounder Andre Russell for Multan.

Lahore is blessed with alrounders Carlos Brathwaite, Corey Anderson and Nepal spin sensation Sandeep Lamichhane.

The Pakistan players to watch out will be rising pacer Shaheen Afridi, renowned leg spinner Yasir Shah and Champions Trophy hero Fakhar Zaman for Lahore.

SQUADS

Peshawar Zalmi

Darren Sammy, Captain of Peshawar Zalmi, unveils the 'Spirit of Cricket Award' (Most disciplined team of the Tournament) trophy at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Image Credit: Facebook/PSL

Darren Sammy (C), Kamran Akmal, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Sameen Gul, Khalid Usman, Umaid Asif, Liam Dawson, Misbah-ul-Haq, Kieron Pollard, Dawid Malan, Umar Amin, Sohaib Maqsood, Wayne Madsen, Nabi Gul, Jamal Anwar, Chris Jordan, Ibtisam Sheikh, Samiullah, Waqar Salamkheil

Quetta Gladiators

Sarfraz Ahmad, Captain of Quetta Gladiators, unveils the 'Safest Hands (Best Wicket-Keeper) of the Tournament' trophy at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Image Credit: Facebook/PSL

Sarfraz Ahmed (C), Umar Akmal, Ahmed Shehzad, Shane Watson, Rilee Rossouw, Mohammad Nawaz, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Azam Khan, Saud Shakeel, Sunil Narine, Sohail Tanvir, Dwayne Bravo, Fawad Ahmed, Jalat Khan, Mohammad Asghar, Danish Aziz, Ahsan Ali, Ghulam Mudassar, Naseem Shah, Harry Gurney

Karachi Kings

Imad Wasim, Captain of Karachi Kings, unveils the 'Best Bowler of the Tournament' trophy at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Image Credit: Facebook/PSL

Imad Wasim (C), Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, Ravi Bopara, Usman Khan, Mohammad Amir, Colin Ingram, Colin Munro, Sikandar Raza, Awais Zia, Usama Mir, Aaron Summers, Sohail Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Ali Imran, Abrar Ahmed, Aamir Yamin, Jaahid Ali, Ben Dunk, Liam Livingstone

Multan Sultans

Shoaib Malek, Captain of Multan Sultans, unveils the 'Best Fielder of the Tournament' trophy at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Image Credit: Facebook/PSL

Shoaib Malik (C), Shan Masood, Umar Siddiq, Mohammad Junaid, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Irfan Khan, Shahid Afridi, Joe Denly, Nicholas Pooran, Qais Ahmed, Shakeel Ansar, Laurie Evans, Numan Ali, Dan Christian, Tome Moores, Ali Shafiq, Muhammad Ilyas, Andre Russell

Lahore Qalandars

Mohammad Hafeez, Captain of Lahore Qalandars, unveils the 'Best Batsman of the Tournament' trophy at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Image Credit: Facebook/PSL

Mohammad Hafeez (C), Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, AB de Villiers, Yasir Shah, Sohail Akhtar, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Rahat Ali, Agha Salman, Hassan Khan, Anton Devcich, Carlos Brathwaite, Corey Anderson, Sandeep Lamichhane, Mohammad Imran, Umair Masood, Brendan Taylor, Gohar Ali, Aizaz Cheema, Haris Rauf, David Wiese, Hardus Viljoen

Islamabad United

Mohammad Sami, Captain of Islamabad United, unveils the 'Man of the Tournament' trophy at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Image Credit: Facebook/PSL

Mohammad Sami (C), Sahibzada Farhan, Asif Ali, Hussain Talat, Faheem Ashraf, Zafar Gohar, Waqas Maqsood, Rumman Raees, Shadab Khan, Luke Ronchi, Ian Bell, Philip Salt, Cameron Delport, Samit Patel, Muhammad Musa, Wayne Parnell, Zahir Khan, Amad Butt, Rizwan Hussain, Nasir Nawaz.

Image Credit: Gulf News