Atif Aslam and Aima Baig perform at the opening ceremony of PSL 7 at the National Stadium Karachi on Thursday. Photo/ ThePSLt20/Twitter
The much-anticipated seventh edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) kicked off in Karachi on Thursday with an impressive opening ceremony at Karachi's National Stadium, Dawn News reported.
The event began with a documentary shedding light on the journey of cricket in Pakistan featuring a voice over by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ramiz Raja.
Paragliders also descended from the sky at one point, making a clean landing in the stadium.
Singers Atif Aslam and Aima Baig turned up the heat on a cold Karachi evening by performing this year's anthem 'Agay Dekh.’
Prime Minister Imran Khan's special message to PSL teams was also played during the ceremony, followed by a vibrant fireworks display.
The ceremony followed by a match between defending champions Multan Sultans and Karachi Kings. Pakistan skipper Babar Azam leads the Kings while wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan is the captain for Sultans.
The recent rise of coronavirus cases across Pakistan has forced the PCB to limit spectators in Karachi — which will host matches until Feb.7 — to 25 per cent only, following recommendations by the National Command and Operation Centre.
No such decision has been taken for Lahore yet, with the city’s Gaddafi Stadium set to host PSL matches from Feb.10 to 27, including the final.
It’s not only the fans who have to face restrictions due to the pandemic.
The PCB has arranged strict bio-secure bubbles for the six franchise sides, with the intent to avoid delays at any cost. According to the playing conditions set by the board’s technical committee, matches will go ahead even if 13 players out of the teams’ 20-man squads are available
In a situation where the player availability is even lower, affected teams will be allowed to pick from a reserve pool. If a Covid-19 outbreak occurs, the tournament will be halted for seven days, bio-secure bubbles will be reset from scratch and double-headers will be held in the remaining days to meet the Feb.27 deadline.
Despite these steps, the pandemic has already put a dampener of the event before its start. Earlier today, Quetta Gladiators announced that all-rounder Shahid Afridi would miss the start of PSL after testing positive for coronavirus.
The first leg of 15 matches will be played in Karachi from Jan.27 to Feb.7, while the remaining 19 matches will be held in Lahore from Feb 10-27.
Captain Mohammad Rizwan's blistering unbeaten 110 off 64 balls — his maiden PSL century — powered Multan to a strong 196-2.
Host Karachi, led by Pakistan T20 captain Babar Azam, will go to Lahore next week for the final leg of the PSL without a point. Another defeat will put the team on the brink of elimination.
Led by captain Mohammad Rizwan’s (83 not out) fifth half-century this season and a whopping 71 off just 26 balls from Rilee Rossouw, Multan racked up 245-3 after Rizwan had won the toss and opted to bat first.
Left-handed Masood made 83 off 50 balls while Rizwan’s (69) sublime form in the T20s continued as he scored his second successive half-century in Multan’s record-breaking chase of 209-5 with two balls to spare.
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