LAHORE: Quetta Gladiators will clash with Islamabad United in opener when HBL Pakistan Super League5 rolls into action at National Stadium Karachi on Thursday (today). As many as 350 artists will perform in the colourful and dazzling opening ceremony. The metropolitan city is expected to be set alight as artists from different music genres – Sufi, pop, rock, bhangra and folk – will come together to perform at what will be the biggest opening ceremony in the history of the PSL. Artists like Abrar-ul-Haq, Aima Baig, Abu Mohammad, Fareed Ayaz, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Sajjad Ali, Sanam Marvi and rock band Soch will embellish the ceremony with their breath-taking performances, while Ali Azmat, Arif Lohar, Haroon and Asim Azhar will perform PSL 2020’s anthem Tayyar Hain. The glittery ceremony, which will be held before the opening match, will also include riveting acts and a spectacular fireworks show. The ceremony, which will be approximately an hour long, will kick-off at 6:45pm. The toss for the first match will be held at 8:30pm, while the much-anticipated first ball of the HBL PSL 2020 will be delivered at 9:00pm. Although a domestic tournament, the six-team PSL will be held across four venues with Karachi staging nine, Lahore 14, Rawalpindi eight and Multan three. When the 2020 edition of the PSL starts in Karachi today, Darren Sammy of the West Indies and Shane Watson of Australia will be among 36 foreign cricketers involved in the six franchises. The return of international cricket has been a slow process following an attack on the Sri Lankan team’s bus in Lahore during a Test series in 2009. For this T20 event, the PCB has worked with the Federation of International Cricketers Association and also shared its security plans with foreign stars to make them feel safe. Cricket went into isolation for more than six years after the attack near Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore in 2009. There was a ray of hope in 2015 when Zimbabwe toured for a limited-overs series. Over the next two years, Sri Lanka and the West Indies also played limited-overs matches in the country. The PCB overcame another barrier when it hosted Test matches last year in Pakistan for the first time in a decade. In a bid to reassure cricket officials from countries such as Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa about the security situation, Pakistan invited the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the guardians of the laws of cricket, for limited-overs matches in Lahore. Led by former Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara, who is also the MCC president, the players have had VIP level security, which is a slightly lower level than that provided to Bangladesh and Sri Lankan squads for recent series. This edition will be the first one to be played in Pakistan in its entirety. Since the advent of the league in 2016, the tournament has gradually moved to Pakistan with this year’s edition nothing less than leapfrog for the coveted league. The first edition that included five teams was played entirely in the United Arab Emirates; the second edition saw the first step towards its homecoming with the final between Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators at the Gaddafi Stadium Lahore. The 2018 edition was the first instance that two Pakistani cities hosted the PSL matches. Lahore was host to two play-offs while Karachi staged the final in which Islamabad United prevailed against defending champions Peshawar Zalmi. It was also in this very season that Multan Sultans were added as the sixth franchise. The 2019 season had an unprecedented eight games in Pakistan. Karachi’s National Stadium was the host to all matches, including the three play-offs and the final between Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi which Quetta won convincingly to lift the prestigious HBL PSL trophy for the first time. The 2020 tournament is carrying total prize money of US$1million. The winners of the March 22 final under Gaddafi Stadium lights will collect a cheque for U$500,000 along with a glittering and brand new trophy, while the runners-up will receive a cheque for US$200,000. In addition to the above, there will be number of other cash awards, including US$4500 each to all the 34 player of the matches. Furthermore, US$80,000 will be equally distributed to player of the tournament, best batsman, best bowler and Spirit of Cricket. The remaining amount will be distributed for other match-related awards like best catch, best run-out and most sixes. The teams and their captains are: Islamabad United — Shadab Khan Quetta Gladiators — Sarfaraz Ahmed Peshawar Zalmi — Darren Sammy Lahore Qalandars — Sohail Akhtar Karachi Kings — Imad Wasim Multan Sultans — Shan Masood The 34-match 32-day PSL 2020 will be the biggest cricket extravaganza to take place in Pakistan and first since the six-team Asia Cup 2008. Twelve years ago, the then four Test playing countries were joined by the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong in a 13-match tournament in Karachi and Lahore. Sri Lanka had defeated India in the final at the National Stadium by 100 runs. Prior to this tournament, Pakistan had staged the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 1987 and 1996. In 1987, Pakistan had hosted 10 matches at seven venues, while 16 matches were played at six venues in 1996. Squads Quetta Gladiators: Mohammad Nawaz, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shane Watson, Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal, Mohammad Hasnain, Ahsan Ali, Naseem Shah, Jason Roy, Ben Cutting, Sohail Khan, Tymal Mills, Abdul Nasir, Arish Ali Khan, Azam Khan, Keemo Paul (from March 7), Khurram Manzoor, Zahid Mehmood (until March 7). Multan Sultans: Mohammad Irfan, Shahid Afridi, James Vince, Junaid Khan, Ali Shafiq, Shan Masood, Mohammad Ilyas, Moeen Ali, Rilee Rossouw, Zeeshan Ashraf, Ravi Bopara, Sohail Tanvir, Khushdil Shah, Usman Qadir, Fabian Allen (from March 7), Rohail Nazir, Imran Tahir, Bilawal Bhatti, Wayne Madsen (until March 7). Islamabad United: Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Asif Ali, Luke Ronchi, Hussain Talat, Amad Butt, Musa Khan, Rizwan Hussain, Dale Steyn, Colin Ingram, Colin Munro, Rumman Raees, Phil Salt, Zafar Gohar, Akif Javed, Ahmed Safi Abdullah, Saif Badar, Dawid Malan. Peshawar Zalmi: Hasan Ali, Kieron Pollard (from March 7), Wahab Riaz, Kamran Akmal, Darren Sammy, Imam-ul-Haq, Umar Amin, Tom Banton, Shoaib Malik, Liam Dawson, Mohammad Mohsin, Rahat Ali, Adil Amin, Amir Khan, Aamir Ali, Liam Livingstone, Haider Ali Khan, Lewis Gregory, Carlos Brathwaite (until March 7). Karachi Kings: Babar Azam, Mohammad Amir, Imad Wasim, Iftikhar Ahmed, Aamir Yamin, Usama Mir, Umer Khan, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Sharjeel Khan, Fawad Ahmed, Cameron Delport, Mohammad Rizwan, Umaid Asif, Ali Khan, Arshad Iqbal, Awais Zia, Mitch McClenaghan, Chadwick Walton. Lahore Qalandars: Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shaheen Shah Afridi, David Wiese, Usman Shinwari, Haris Rauf, Sohail Akhtar, Salman Butt, Chris Lynn, Samit Patel, Seekkuge Prasanna, Ben Dunk, Farzan Raja, Jaahid Ali, Mohammad Faizan, Dilbar Hussain, Dane Vilas. Schedule Feb 20 – Opening ceremony to be followed by star Quetta Gladiators vs Islamabad United, National Stadium (7:00pm PST) Feb 21 – Karachi Kings vs Peshawar Zalmi, National Stadium (2:00pm PST), Lahore Qalandars vs Multan Sultans, Gaddafi Stadium (7:00pm PST) Feb 22 – Quetta Gladiators vs Peshawar Zalmi, National Stadium (2:00pm PST), Islamabad United vs Multan Sultans, Gaddafi Stadium (7:00pm PST) Feb 23 – Karachi Kings vs Quetta Gladiators, National Stadium (2:00pm PST), Lahore Qalandars vs Islamabad United, Gaddafi Stadium (7:00 pm PST) Feb 26 – Multan Sultans vs Peshawar Zalmi, Multan Cricket Stadium (7:00pm PST) Feb 27 – Islamabad United vs Quetta Gladiators, Pindi Cricket Stadium (7:00pm PST) Feb 28 – Multan Sultans vs Karachi Kings, Multan Cricket Stadium (2:00pm PST), Peshawar Zalmi vs Lahore Qalandars, Pindi Cricket Stadium (7:00pm PST) Feb 29 – Multan Sultans vs Quetta Gladiators, Multan Cricket Stadium (2:00pm PST), Islamabad United v Peshawar Zalmi, Pindi Cricket Stadium (7:00pm PST) March 1 – Islamabad United v Karachi Kings, Pindi Cricket Stadium (7:00pm PST) March 2 – Peshawar Zalmi v Karachi Kings, Pindi Cricket Stadium (7:00pm PST) March 3 – Quetta Gladiators v Lahore Qalandars, Gaddafi Stadium (7:00pm PST) March 4 – Islamabad United v Lahore Qalandars, Gaddafi Stadium (7:00pm PST) March 5 – Peshawar Zalmi vs Quetta Gladiators, Pindi Cricket Stadium (7:00pm PST) March 6 – Karachi Kings vs Multan Sultans, Gaddafi Stadium (7:00pm PST) March 7 – Peshawar Zalmi vs Islamabad United, Pindi Cricket Stadium (2:00pm PST), Lahore Qalandars vs Quetta Gladiators, Gaddafi Stadium (7:00pm PST) March 8 – Multan Sultans vs Islamabad United, Pindi Cricket Stadium (2:00pm PST), Lahore Qalandars vs Karachi Kings, Gaddafi Stadium (7:00pm PST) March 10 – Lahore Qalandars vs Peshawar Zalmi, Gaddafi Stadium (7:00pm PST) March 11 – Quetta Gladiators vs Multan Sultans, Gaddafi Stadium (7:00pm PST) March 12 – Karachi Kings vs Lahore Qalandars, National Stadium (7:00pm PST) March 13 – Peshawar Zalmi vs Multan Sultans, National Stadium (7:00pm PST) March 14 – Karachi Kings vs Islamabad United, National Stadium (7:00pm PST) March 15 – Multan Sultans vs Lahore Qalandars, Gaddafi Stadium (2:00pm PST), Quetta Gladiators vs Karachi Kings, National Stadium (7:00pm PST) March 17 – Qualifier (1 vs 2), National Stadium (7: 00pm PST) March 18 – Eliminator 1 (3 vs 4), Gaddafi Stadium (7:00pm PST) March 20 – Eliminator 2 (loser Qualifier vs winner Eliminator 1), Gaddafi Stadium (7:00pm PST) March 22 – Final, Gaddafi Stadium (start time TBC).