Eleven days and 14 matches after the 2021 edition of the Pakistan Super League started in February-March, the tournament had to be postponed to mid-term due to several positive COVID-19 cases. The decision to suspend the tournament was taken in an emergency meeting on March 4, with 20 matches still to be played. From March to early June, there were several hurdles as the PCB worked hard to relaunch the Sixth Edition of PSL, which is finally set to resume on June 9.
A journey full of obstacles in Abu Dhabi
The PCB announced in early April that the tournament would resume on June 1, with all matches scheduled to be played in Karachi. But the board has been forced to reconsider its decision to play matches in Pakistan with a new wave of COVID-19 cases in the country. The franchises preferred the United Arab Emirates as the destination to host the remaining matches and the PCB wrote to the Emirates Cricket Board, finally getting the green signal to host the tournament in the Emirates.
Less than two weeks before the tournament started, the PCB faced a major roadblock in Abu Dhabi where they were supposed to play the remaining matches. They eventually got over the issues and the PCB confirmed that they had received all approvals and exemptions from the UAE government to host the remaining 20 PSL matches in Abu Dhabi.
But then came the problem of staff transportation to Abu Dhabi, with some players and officials even being sent to their respective homes while awaiting visas. There was confusion with charter flights and commercial flights while the players were in limbo. Bringing in different teams from different parts of the world also posed a problem for the PCB. But they eventually got over it all and finally revealed the schedule for the rest of the competition.
Of the remaining 20 matches, 16 are league stage matches that will be played from June 9 to 19, which includes five double-title matches. After a break on June 20, The Qualifier and Eliminator will be held on June 21 while the second Qualifier will be played on June 22. The final is scheduled for June 24. The new schedule also meant that the Pakistani squad, which were due to fly to England on June 23, would only be able to do so on June 25 - which also required an adjustment in bilateral tour fixtures that the England and Wales Cricket Board obliged.
A replacement draft was made on April 27 with teams signing up to 19 foreign players to compensate for those who could not participate in the competition. Among the top picks were Andre Russell, Martin Guptill and Usman Khawaja, as were the Bangladeshi trio of Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah and Liton Das, who then retired to compete in their country's national competition.
Another mini player replacement draft took place on May 22, with franchises being allowed to expand their squad size from 18 to 20. Shimron Hetmyer and Johnson Charles were both recruited by Multan Sultans while Rashid Khan joined Lahore Qalandars.
Days after the draft, Multan's all-round veteran Shahid Afridi was kicked out of the tournament due to a back injury while Anwar Ali was out after testing positive for COVID-19 before his integration into the bio -bubble. Naseem Shah was initially denied permission to participate in the tournament after breaking protocol by submitting a non-compliant RT-PCR test. He was then admitted to the pre-start bubble after undergoing another test.
Overseas players outside the original teams:
Islamabad United - Alex Hales, Lewis Gregory, Phil Salt
Kings of Karachi - Colin Ingram, Mohammad Nabi, Dan Christian, Joe Clarke
Lahore Qalandars - David Wiese, Joe Denly, Tom Abell, Samit Patel
Multan Sultans - Chris Lynn, James Vince, Adam Lyth, Carlos Brathwaite
Peshawar Zalmi - Mujeeb ur Rahman, Liam Livingstone, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Ravi Bopara, Saqib Mahmood
Quetta Gladiators - Tom Banton, Dale Steyn, Ben Cutting
Foreign players for the Abu Dhabi match:
Islamabad United - Usman Khawaja
Kings of Karachi - Martin Guptill, Najeebullah Zadran, Thisara Perera
Lahore Qalandars - James Faulkner, Tim David, Callum Ferguson, Seekuge Prasanna
Multan Sultans - Shimron Hetmyer, Johnson Charles, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Obed McCoy
Peshawar Zalmi - Fabian Allen, Rovman Powell, Fidel Edwards
Quetta Gladiators - Andre Russell, Jack Wildermuth, Jake Weatherald, Zahir Khan
The situation of the points table:
The Karachi Kings and Peshawar Zalmi, who have won three wins in five matches, currently occupy the top two places in the points table. Islamabad United and Lahore Qalandars are third and fourth respectively, the two sides with six points having made four appearances each. Multan Sultans and Quetta Gladiators only managed one win each, leaving them with two points and a lot of catching up to do.
Karachi leg highlights:
Sharjeel Khan scored the only century in the 2021 PSL Karachi game when he hit a 105 from 59 balls for the Karachi Kings against Islamabad United. This blow, however, went to no avail thanks to United's collective batting effort. Peshawar Zalmi captain Wahab Riaz scored 4-17 against United, recording the only four wicket loot in Karachi's leg. Zalmi also recorded the lone total of over 200, getting 202 for 7 in a 199 chase against Quetta Gladiators. Just days before the tournament came to a halt, Paul Stirling hit a fifty of 21 ball for United against the Gladiators, registering the fastest fifty in the year.
Islamabad United: Shadab Khan (c), Ahmed Saifi Abdullah, Ali Khan, Akif Javed, Asif Ali, Brendon King, Colin Munro, Fawad Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Mohammad Akhlaq, Musa Khan, Rohail Nazir, Umer Amin, Usman Khawaja, Zafar Gohar and Zeeshan Zameer
Kings of Karachi: Imad Wasim (c), Abbas Afridi, Amir Yamin, Arshad Iqbal, Babar Azam, Chadwick Walton, Danish Aziz, Martin Guptill, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Ilyas, Mohammad Haris, Thisara Perera, Najeebullah Zadran, Noor Ahmed, Qasim Akram, Sharjeel Khan, Waqas Maqsood and Zeeshan Malik
Lahore Qalandars: Sohail Akhtar (c), Ahmed Danyal, Ben Dunk, Callum Ferguson, Dilbar Hussain, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, James Faulkner, Maaz Khan, Mohammad Faizan, Mohammad Hafeez, Rashid Khan, Salman Ali Agha, Seekuge Prasanna, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sultan Ahmed, Tim David, Zaid Alam and Zeeshan Ashraf
Sultans of Multan: Mohammad Rizwan (c), Asif Afridi, Hammad Azam, Imran Tahir, Imran Khan Snr, Johnson Charles, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Umar, Obed McCoy, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Rilee Rossouw, Shahnawaz Dhani, Shanparti Masood, (Shimronally Hetmyer available), Sohaib Maqsood, Sohaibullah, Sohail Khan, Sohail Tanvir, Usman Qadir and Muhammad Waseem
Peshawar Zalmi: Wahab Riaz (c), Abrar Ahmed, Amad Butt, Bismillah Khan, David Miller (partially available), Fabian Allen (partially available), Fidel Edwards (partially available), Haider Ali, Hazratullah Zazai, Imam-ul-Haq , Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Amir Khan, Mohammad Irfan Snr, Mohammad Imran, Mohammad Imran Randhawa, Rovman Powell, Waqar Salamkheil, Sherfane Rutherford, Shoaib Malik and Umaid Asif
Quetta Gladiators: Sarfaraz Ahmed (c), Abdul Nasir, Andre Russell (partially available), Anwar Ali, Arish Ali Khan, Azam Khan, Cameron Delport, Faf du Plessis, Hassan Khan, Jack Wildermuth, Jake Weatherald, Khurram Shehzad, Mohammad Hasnain , Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Usman Khan, Usman Shinwari, Zahid Mahmood and Zahir Khan
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