The HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2017 got off to a roaring start as a dazzling opening ceremony that enthralled a packed Dubai International Stadium on Thursday evening before the opening match between defending champions Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi.
The chief guest on the occasion was His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan who heads the UAE Ministry of Culture, Youth and Social Development.
His Excellency spoke about the deep bond between Pakistan and UAE that is further strengthened by the sport of cricket, as he wished the tournament participants success when they take the field for the tournament.
Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board Shaharyar Khan and Chairman PSL Najam Sethi also spoke on the occasion and made a commitment of playing the tournament final in Lahore while hoping for another action packed edition of the PSL.
The HBL PSL opening ceremony saw eye catching performances by international super stars Shaggy, Ali Zafar and Shehzad Roy.
The cultural act included a 3D projection for the first time ever in a Pakistani show which illuminated the famed 'Ring of Fire' stadium in Dubai.
The ceremony also featured Flying Drummers, cultural performances from all the four provinces and Islamabad.
The five teams marched on the field while the captain signed a bat which had the official PSL oath written on it.
Cricket-tainment bat for Edhi Foundation
The HBL PSL and PCB are further strengthening their bond with the esteemed Edhi Foundation.
In recognition of the renowned humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi's services, a special 'cricket-tainment' bat signed by the artists performing at the HBL PSL opening ceremony will be auctioned and the money gained will be handed over to the Foundation as charity.
The details of the auction will be announced in due course. Additionally a special poster signed by the artists will be handed over to the most passionate fan of the league.
Details will be available at PSL official website soon: www.psl-t20.com
HBL PSL 'Green' and 'Maroon' caps
Green and maroon caps will be handed out to the best batsman and the best bowler in the tournament respectively.
The two caps of honour will also endorse the Edhi foundation logo in memory of Abdul Sattar Edhi who passed away last year.
The maroon and the green caps will be handed to the highest wicket taker and the highest runs scorer respectively throughout the course of the tournament.
The bowler with the most wickets in the tournament will wear the maroon cap, while the batsman who has the highest number of runs to his credit will flaunt the green cap.
The 'Spirit Trophy' dazzles with the innovative Crystal Fine Rocks - a product made using over 50,000 double pointed crystals from Swarovski®. Sitting on the pinnacle is the Shooting Star, a multi-faceted crystal sculpture made with precision cut technology.
HBL PSL 2017 trophies will also be awarded for the best batsman, best bowler, wicket-keeper and man-of-the-tournament.
The Best Batsman's trophy (a crystallized cricket bat) is named after legendary Pakistan batsman Hanif Mohammad; the Best Bowler's trophy (a crystallized cricket ball) is named after legendary fast bowler Fazal Mahmood (a crystallized cricket ball); the Best Wicket-keeper's trophy (a crystallized wicket-keeper's glove) named after legendary wicket-keeper Imtiaz Ahmed; and the Man of the Tournament's trophy (a crystallized rising star).
The number of matches has been increased from 16 to 24 in the second season, with Dubai playing host to 13 of them including the Playoff 3 on March.
The Dubai International Stadium has hosted international cricket since 2009 and has staged more T20Is than any other venue -.43.
On Saturday, February 11, Islamabad will be in action yet again as they play Lahore while the second game will see the Gladiators take on the Kings.
Each of the five sides will be involved in a double-leg round-robin league thereby playing eight games each.
The top four teams will then qualify for the playoffs wherein the first-ranked team at the end of the league stage will take on the second-placed side in the first playoff.
The second playoff will see the third and the fourth ranked side take on each other before the losing team from the first playoff faces the winning team from the second playoff.
The PSL between the winner of the first playoff and the third playoff will be held in Lahore on March 5 after the Pakistan Cricket Board confirmed that it will be played in Pakistan.
Tickets are available from the Q-Tickets website which is the official online ticketing partner for the event.
For the double-headers played in Dubai, tickets range between Dh40 and 275 while the single game on 12 February 12, ticket price range between Dh20 and 220.
The complete schedule of matches at Dubai Sports City is as follows:
9 February 9.00pm: Peshawar Zalmi vs Islamabad United
10 February 3.30pm: Lahore Qalandars vs Quetta Gladiators
10 February 8.00pm: Karachi Kings vs Peshawar Zalmi
11 February 3.30pm: Islamabad United vs Lahore Qalandars
11 February 8.00pm: Quetta Gladiators vs Karachi Kings
12 February 8.00pm: Peshawar Zalmi vs Lahore Qalandars
23 February 8.00pm: Karachi Kings vs Quetta Gladiators
24 February 3.30pm: Peshawar Zalmi vs Lahore Qalandars
24 February 8.00pm: Quetta Gladiators vs Islamabad United
25 February 3.30pm: Lahore Qalandars vs Karachi Kings
25 February 8.00pm: Peshawar Zalmi vs Quetta Gladiators
26 February 8.00pm: Karachi Kings vs Islamabad United
3 March 8.00pm: Playoff 3: Winner Playoff 2 vs Runner Up Playoff 1
Sharjah will also host round robin matches from 15 to 20 February and the first two Playoff matches on 28 February and 1 March.
Islamabad United won the inaugural edition of the HBL PSL after defeating Quetta Gladiators in the final of the tournament held in Dubai on 23 February 2016.
Andre Russell's three-wicket haul laid the foundation for Islamabad's victory before Dwayne Smith and Brad Haddin smashed fifties to steer the side towards the target of 175.
Ahmed Shehzad and Kumar Sangakkara also cracked fifties in the final for the Gladiators, who fancied their chances after piling up 174.