The eighth edition of the much-awaited Pakistan Super League (PSL) kicked off on Monday at the Multan Cricket Stadium with a glittering and star-studded opening ceremony.
The ceremony, which began with a half-hour delay, saw singer Aima Baig — clad in an ethereal white gown — first performing the national anthem.
Speaking at the ceremony, Habib Bank Limited (HBL) President and CEO Muhammad Aurangzeb congratulated the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for organising the tournament for the eighth time.
“This is a historic first in terms of having the inaugurating match in Multan this evening,” he said. “HBL PSL has moved from strength to strength. All the stakeholders have put in a concerted effort to make this a success.”
Meanwhile, Najam Sethi — who is heading a panel governing the cricketing board’s affairs till a chairman is elected — showed off the massive replica of this year’s trophy adorning the stage.
“Next year we will go to Quetta and Peshawar,” he vowed, adding that the PSL had given many assets to the country and become a source of happiness for the nation.
Sahir Ali Bagga and Baig then took to the stage for their performance, getting the crowd roaring.
The performance was followed by Asim Azhar, Faris Shafi and Shae Gill performing this year’s official anthem ‘Sab Sitarey Humaray’.
The ceremony concluded with a large fireworks display.
The first match of the tournament will be played between the Multan Sultans and Lahore Qalandars.
Led by Pakistan’s star wicket-keeper batter Mohammad Rizwan, Multan boast a batting-heavy core of players featuring Australia’s Tim David, South African Rilee Rossouw, his compatriot David Miller and West Indies veteran Kieran Pollard.
Into its eighth season, the HBL Pakistan Super League is set to operate at its maximum potential. For the first time since its inaugural edition in 2016, the country’s flagship franchise T20 tournament will be held across four home venues.
The last time it was meant to be so was in 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic brought the season to a halt before it was completed later that year behind closed doors.
The previous edition of the PSL was also held in Pakistan in its entirety but all matches were conducted across Karachi and Lahore only. This year, in addition to the two metropolises, Multan and Rawalpindi will also be in the fray, which would mean four of the six sides in Multan Sultans, Lahore Qalandars, Karachi Kings and Islamabad United will enjoy home advantage. Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators, on the other hand, will have to do without the backing of home supporters.