LAHORE: The trophy for the third season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), which starts February 22, was jointly unveiled by the captains of each of the PSL franchises at a ceremony held in Dubai on Tuesday. The unveiling ceremony was accompanied by a press conference addressed by PSL chief Najam Sethi and captains Darren Sammy, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Brendon McCullum, Misbahul Haq and Sarfraz Ahmed. Each of those present were given an opportunity to say a few words, starting with Sethi, who thanked Swarovski for making the trophy, and introduced each of the cricketers present at the dais alongside him.“I just want to say that without these franchise owners, there would be no PSL. I want to express my gratitude to them for their enormous support in terms of the money and the effort that they’ve put into this brand,” said Sethi, while praising the franchise owners. Sethi also took the time to individually praise each franchise captain. Praising Karachi Kings skipper Imad, Sethi said: “He is one of the most talented players. Handing him captaincy of the Karachi Kings is an excellent opportunity. He is the youngest captain here. If the Kings win under Imad, he will be planted firmly in my crosshairs.” Sethi gave Sarfraz, skipper of both the Quetta Gladiators and the national cricket team, his vote of confidence: “If someone can lead the Green Shirts, they can lead any side in the world.”Each of the cricketers addressed the event by turn, starting with Shahid Afridi. “Sethi has done a great thing by holding PSL. It was a challenge and he took it on,” he said. Defending champions Peshawar Zalmi’s captain Sammy gave his best to all the other captains. “They are coming for my title,” he joked. “I hope the tournament becomes more successful. I hope my team is still in the running when we get to Karachi for the final.”Islamabad United captain Misbah thanked Sethi for his praise. “I think the last two years of PSL were wonderful. We enjoyed the competition, it keeps getting tougher with every season,” he said. McCullum, captain of the Lahore Qalandars, thanked the sponsors and the Pakistan Cricket Board for their hand in the organisation of the PSL. “I couldn’t think of a better bunch to play against. You are an amazing country and you’ve done great things for cricket. I can’t guarantee success, but we will try our best.” Sarfraz, who was introduced amid loud applause, also thanked the sponsors. “I hope this season goes as well as the last two. I hope to win this series in our home city of Karachi,” he said.Malik, captain of the new franchise Multan Sultans, appreciated Sethi’s conception and execution of the PSL. “It’s a great sign for Pakistani cricket. The team owners, sponsors and media have played a remarkable role,” he said. Sethi also appreciated the Sultans. “Possibly the biggest leap forward has been the inclusion of the Multan Sultans. They have paid through their pocket to be a part of this. It has been an extraordinary gesture on their part.”The third season of the PSL will kick off in Dubai on Thursday with a star-studded ceremony headlined by the legendary Sufi singer Abida Parveen and American pop star Jason Derulo. Pakistani heartthrobs Ali Zafar and Shahzad Roy will also be entertaining fans at the event. The tournament opener featuring defending champions Peshawar Zalmi and new entrants Multan Sultans will take place the same night at 10:00 pm in Dubai. A total of 34 matches will be played across different venues in Dubai, Sharjah, and Lahore. The final is to be held at Karachi’s National Stadium on March 25, according to the PSL schedule. During the season, all teams will play against each other twice before the top four teams qualify for the play-off stage.Published in Daily Times, February 21st 2018.