Franchises, PCB all but agree over eight-team PSL, April-May window – Sport

LAHORE: With two more teams set to be added to the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) in 2026, the current six franchises have all but agreed over the country’s cricket board’s proposal to hold the future editions of the franchise Twenty20 tournament in the April-May window.

The consensus, according to sources, took place during the meeting between the respective representatives of the six franchises and the higher officials of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Thursday.

With Pakistan to host the ICC Champions Trophy next year, the PSL will have to be moved to the April-May window. But this change will apply to future editions as well, given that the addition of teams will increase the number of matches.

Holding the PSL in the April-May window would mean the tournament will clash with the Indian Premier League (IPL). While that may affect the interest of foreign players in the PSL, the window is deemed suitable by the PCB due to minimum bilateral cricket during it.

“As the PSL is also being expanded from six teams to eight from the 2026 season, a window of more than 50 days is required to hold the tournament,” a source told Dawn. “The months of April and May are the only ones left when there is dearth of bilateral cricket because of the IPL’s schedule.

“The final approval for the new dates of the PSL will be given in the next general council meeting of the PSL, which will be held soon.”

The PCB is also looking at the possibility of holding the PSL play-offs and final in England next year. The body is expected to meet the England and Wales Cricket Board in this regard later this month.

“As we will have a good number of matches with the addition of two teams from 2026, new venues are needed to hold 60-plus matches comfortably,” the source said. “We are interested to include England as one of the venues as it will connect the PCB with the big broadcasters and sponsors.”

While venues abroad are in consideration, the PCB has also started explore the possibilities of including Quetta and Peshawar — home grounds of the Gladiators and Zalmi respectively.

Both teams have been deprived of the chance to play in front of home crowds, a disadvantage they face unlike the remaining PSL sides.

“The PCB is going to form a ground committee which will recommend the board how to deal the affairs of the pitches and other allied facilities relating to holding the matches in Arbab Niaz Stadium, Peshawar,” the source said.

However, sources added that the security situation would also be considered as top priority by the PCB before including any venue, be it the Bugti Stadium in Quetta or the facility in Peshawar.

Moreover, in an update provided on Friday, the PCB said it had offered franchise owners assistance in signing marquee players for multiple years.

The board and the franchise representatives also discussed the option for each team to directly sign one player, in addition to the marquee player offer that PCB will support.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2024

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