Four cities across Pakistan have been identified as hosts for the 34 matches of the upcoming PSL, the PCB has announced. Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium will stage 14 matches, including the final on March 22, while Karachi will host nine games, including the tournament opener between Quetta Gladiators and Islamabad United on February 20. Rawalpindi (eight matches) and Multan (three matches) are the two other venues.
The return of big cricket to Pakistan, following the 2009 terrorist attack on Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore, has mostly been confined to Lahore and Karachi. International cricket returned to Rawalpindi after 13 years last month, when it hosted Pakistan's first home Test in a decade, while Multan last hosted an international game in April 2008.
"After bringing Test cricket back to Pakistan, hosting of the entire HBL Pakistan Super League is our other major achievement," PCB chairman Ehsan Mani said in a statement. "I never had any doubts it was Pakistan's league and should be played in front of home crowds. We had made this commitment to the people of Pakistan at the end of last year's event and I am pleased today we have announced the event schedule with four centres to share the 34 event matches between them."
Multan got its go-ahead following an extensive security assessment by a PCB-appointed independent consultant. The stadium is still undergoing renovations but is expected to be ready in time.
The 36-player overseas contingent for this year's PSL includes international stars including Dale Steyn, Ben Cutting, Chris Lynn, Alex Hales and Chris Jordan. The six franchises signed six overseas players each, with only four allowed in the playing XI per game. A total of 425 overseas players from 22 countries had registered for the PSL 2020 draft.
"This shows the confidence that players throughout the world have in playing in Pakistan," Mani said. "Through this event, we expect economy and tourism to get significant boost, which will have a direct impact on the overall health of the country.
"For the fans, this will be a long-awaited opportunity to see their cricketing heroes live in action and reinforce their love for this great game. I am expecting like last year, the entire country will get behind this tournament and by turning up in big numbers, they will once again show the world their passion for cricket."
Defending champions Quetta Gladiators will play three matches in Lahore, four in Karachi, one in Multan and two in Rawalpindi, while Peshawar Zalmi will play one match each in Lahore and Multan, three in Karachi and five in Rawalpindi. Lahore Qalandars will play eight matches in Lahore and travel to Karachi and Rawalpindi for one game each.
Karachi Kings have two of their games in Lahore, five in Karachi, one in Multan and two in Rawalpindi while Multan Sultans will travel to Lahore for five matches, Karachi and Rawalpindi for one each, with three of their home games in Multan. Islamabad United will travel between Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi for five, three, and two matches respectively.
In recent years, the PCB has used the PSL as a key platform to revive high-profile cricket in the country. The ball got rolling in 2017 when the Gaddafi Stadium hosted the final of the tournament. In the following season, four games were held across Karachi and Lahore, with the fourth and most-recent edition in 2019, seeing eight games played in Karachi, including the final.