Pakistan's T20 cricket Super League to be played in UAE

Kevin Pieterson and co. look set to join a superstars league to rival India's IPL, hosted in Dubai and Sharjah.

James Reynolds September 29, 2015

The UAE’s cricket fans have reason to celebrate this week, after news that the country will host the new T20 Pakistan Super League.

Essentially Pakistan’s version of the hugely popular Indian Premier League, the PSL will field teams from Quetta, Islamabad, Karachi, Peshawar and Lahore to compete for the $1million prize.

Cricket is already big in the UAE and has been growing in recent years, partly thanks to its high populations of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi residents, as well as hosting Pakistan’s home matches since 2009. 

Now with the PSL introduced it should only increase the sport’s popularity even more. The plan is for the league to be held in Dubai and Sharjah between February 4-24, 2016, with 24 matches played over the period. 

The real draw for fans of course will be the players, with the likes of Kevin Pieterson, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Luke Wright, Shakib Al Hassan, Lasith Malinga, Sunil Marine and Angelo Mathews already declaring an interest in joining the league. 

Another 122 foreign players have provided consent, although, only a selected few will be picked from the drafting process. Each team will be provided with a $1million spending kitty to entice the best coaches and players to join their ranks. 

Najam Sethi, chairman of the governing council of the PSL, said: “The PSL has already floated tenders for broadcasters and producers…This will be followed by a tendering process for sponsorships in the second week of October. Franchise owners will be inducted between mid to end November, after which the foreign and local players will be drafted and teams constituted." 

With the legendary partnership of Wasim Akram and Ramiz Raza already on board to boost the competitions stature, Dubai and Sharjah look set to increase their reputations as established homes of cricket. Talks are also ongoing for some of the matches to be held in Abu Dhabi at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, but ultimately it is the Pakistan Cricket Board’s choice. 

The PSL announcement is the latest story in a summer of news on the UAE’s cricket scene, as the Emirates will also play host to the Masters Cricket League (MCL) from January next year, featuring past players including several legendary names.

The MCL is backed by the likes of Brian Lara, Jacques Kallis and Adam Gilchrist (with all three participating in the tournament), whilst ex-England captain Graham Cooch and former Australian batsman Allan Border take seats on the governing council. 

The tournament will consist of six teams that will fight for superiority across three stadiums – Dubai’s International Cricket Stadium, the Sharjah Cricket stadium and Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed stadium. 

There has also been word that Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne were in talks to set up a similar league of their own in the UAE. 

West Indies legend Lara thinks that cricket has a calling in the UAE, “The UAE is a great location for a tournament like this to be based, with a big fan base in the country,” he said. 

Chairman of the MCL, Zafar Shah, shares the ex-batsman’s views. “The UAE is an ideal location for this unique tournament: it’s easy to access from anywhere in the world; it has a large fan base already living in the country. It has three fantastic international stadiums to host the matches. We hope that by holding the tournament in the UAE it might also inspire a new generation of Emiratis to take up the great game, leaving a lasting legacy in the country.”

There is always such a desire in sport to see legends return to action and by creating the MCL it gives not only the fans what they want, it gives those players the opportunity to relive the glory days in a professional and competitive environment. 

As things develop further and we edge closer to the opening stages of both the PSL and the MCL, time will tell how much of a success each of the leagues will be. But with such a strong vision and huge backing, the plans of establishing a cricket legacy in the UAE looks a sure thing.