The PCB has upgraded Peshawar Zalmi's Haider Ali
from the diamond to the platinum category for the upcoming eighth edition of Pakistan Super League, while Quetta Gladiators captain Sarfaraz Ahmed
has been moved down from platinum to gold and Peshawar captain Wahab Riaz
from platinum to diamond. Hasan Ali
, who left Zalmi for Islamabad United last year, has also been downgraded, from platinum to diamond.
All six franchises, however, have the right to challenge the promotions and request for relegation of player category before finalising up to eight retentions for the 2023 season.
ESPNcricinfo understands that the PCB is now the sole authority for deciding player categories, with chairman Ramiz Raja
directly involved in the process. On demotion requests - if any - all franchises will be given an opportunity to meet the players' base category. "If the player's base category is not matched, the player may be relegated to a category below his base category," the PCB said in a statement.
Haider played 26 T20s, including 17 internationals, this past year, and his performance has actually gone down. His career T20 strike rate is 135.65, but it has gone down to 119.33 in the last 12 months. He scored just 152 runs at a strike rate of 116.03 in his nine innings last season for Zalmi at a strike rate of 116.03. He has been upgraded despite that.
Hasan, who is the PSL's second-leading wicket-taker over the years with 81 strikes, had a poor 2022 season, and was even dropped from the national T20I team this year. Last season, he had a bowling average of 40.55 and an economy rate of 10.84 as he got nine wickets in nine games for United. He joined his team-mate Faheem Ashraf - diamond to gold - in moving down.
Under-23 players cannot be classified as emerging for more than two seasons unless they have played nine or fewer matches in those two years, so both Zaman Khan
and Syed Faridoun Mahmood
, emerging players from Lahore Qalandars roster have their category retained, along with Mohammad Huraira
and Mubasir Khan
, who was picked up in the silver category by Qalandars last season, has moved up to gold, as any player who has debuted for Pakistan is eligible to.
Other key players with upgraded categories - and pay packets - were Mohammad Wasim (United, gold to diamond), Shahnawaz Dahani and Shan Masood (Multan Sultans, gold to diamond), Mohammad Nawaz and Naseem Shah (Gladiators; Nawaz - diamond to platinum, Naseem - gold to diamond).
The 2023 season, with Qalandars the defending champions, will start on February 9, and the final will take place on March 19. Four venues - Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi, and Multan - will be hosting the matches, a change from the previous two seasons, when Covid-19 forced the games to be played in just two centres, Lahore and Karachi.
Local category player renewals
Lahore Qalandars: Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi (all platinum), Mohammad Hafeez (diamond), Abdullah Shafique (gold), Ahmad Daniyal Latif, Akif Javed, Imran Randhawa, Kamran Ghulam, Maaz Khan, Sohail Akhtar, Zeeshan Ashraf (all silver), Syed Faridoun Mahmood and Zaman Khan (all emerging)
Multan Sultans: Mohammad Rizwan (platinum), Khushdil Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani, Shan Masood (all diamond), Anwar Ali, Imran Khan Snr, Rumman Raees, Sohaib Maqsood (all gold), Rizwan Hussain (silver), Aamer Azmat, Abbas Afridi and Ihsanullah (all emerging)
Islamabad United: Asif Ali, Shadab Khan (all platinum), Hasan Ali, Wasim Jr (all diamond), Azam Khan, Danish Aziz, Faheem Ashraf, Musa Khan, Waqas Maqsood, Zafar Gohar, Zahid Mehmood, (all gold), Athar Mahmood, Mohammad Akhlaq, Nasir Nawaz (all silver), Mohammad Huraira, Mubasir Khan and Zeeshan Zamir (all emerging)
Karachi Kings: Babar Azam, Imad Wasim (all platinum), Mohammad Amir (diamond), Amir Yamin, Mir Hamza, Sahibzada Farhan, Sharjeel Khan, Usman Shinwari (all gold), Mohammad Ilyas, Muhammad Imran Jr, Rohail Nazir, Umaid Asif (all silver), Faisal Akram, Mohammad Taha, Qasim Akram and Talha Ahsan (all emerging)
Peshawar Zalmi: Haider Ali (platinum), Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz (all diamond), Aamer Jamal, Amad Butt, Arshad Iqbal, Hussain Talat, Imam-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Haris, Sohail Khan, Usman Qadir (all gold), Ali Majid, Khalid Usman, Mohammad Amir Khan, Mohammad Umar, Salman Irshad, Sameen Gul, Tayyab Tahir (all silver), Arish Ali Khan, Sirajuddin and Yasir Khan (all emerging)
Quetta Gladiators: Mohammad Nawaz (platinum), Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Hasnain, Naseem Shah (all diamond), Ahsan Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Akmal (all gold), Ali Imran, Ghulam Mudassar, Hassan Khan, Khurram Shahzad (all silver), Abdul Wahid Bangalzai, Ashar Qureshi and Mohammad Shahzad (all emerging)
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent