The countdown of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s marquee event, the HBL Pakistan Super League 2022, began today when the schedule of the seventh edition of one of the most popular and competitive cricket leagues was announced on Saturday.

Following an opening ceremony, defending champions Multan Sultans will take on hosts and 2020 champions Karachi Kings at the National Stadium with the first ball to be bowled at 7 pm PKT.

2019 champions Quetta Gladiators will go toe to toe with 2017 winners Peshawar Zalmi on the following day on Friday.

In the first of the six double-headers to be played in the 32-day and 34-match tournament, Multan Sultans will take on 2020 runners-up Lahore Qalandars at 2 pm PKT, which will be followed by the Karachi Kings and Quetta Gladiators’ fixture that will begin at 7 pm PKT on Saturday.

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Two-time champions Islamabad will be in action on Sunday afternoon when they will lock horns with Peshawar Zalmi, with the evening match to be played between arch-rivals Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars.

After Karachi, which will host 15 matches from 27 January to 7 February, action will shift to the Gaddafi Stadium where the remaining 15 league matches and the four play-offs will be played from 10-27 February.

The 27 February final will be the first time since 2017 when the headquarters of Pakistan cricket will hold the final. National Stadium had staged the finals from 2018 to 2020, while Abu Dhabi was the venue for the 2021 final where Sultans defeated Zalmi by 47 runs.

The PCB has designed the 2022 tournament in such a way that each side will play an equal number of matches in Karachi and Lahore, as well as games under natural and artificial lights.

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PSL Draft 2022

The PCB has decided the HBL PSL Draft 2022 will be held at the High-Performance Centre in Lahore on Sunday, 12 December, with the event to kick-off at 3 pm.

Each side will come to the draft with a maximum of eight-player retentions from the last event. Following the finalization of player categories, the transfer and retention window is now officially open and will close on 10 December.

In the Platinum Category, Lahore Qalandars will have the first pick, followed by Multan Sultans, Karachi Kings, Islamabad United, Peshawar Zalmi, and Quetta Gladiators. Lahore Qalandars will have the first pick in the Diamond Category, followed by Peshawar Zalmi, Islamabad United, Quetta Gladiators, Karachi Kings, and Multan Sultans.

Lahore Qalandars will have the first pick in the Gold Category, Peshawar Zalmi will have the first pick in the Silver Category, Lahore Qalandars will have the first pick in Emerging Category and Quetta Gladiators will have the first pick in Supplementary Category.

Local players’ category renewals

The PCB, following a review and assessment process, has updated local players’ categories.

In the biggest moves, Pakistan wicketkeeper/batter and Multan Sultan’s captain Mohammad Rizwan (previously Silver), Asif Ali of Islamabad United (previously Gold), and Lahore Qalandars’ Haris Rauf (previously Diamond) have been placed in Platinum Category.

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Multan Sultans’ Sohaib Maqsood, who was Player of HBL PSL 6, and Haider Ali of Peshawar Zalmi have moved up from Silver and Gold Categories to Diamond Category, respectively.

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“I am delighted that the HBL PSL 7 schedule has been announced. This will now get the ball rolling with the teams to start planning and finalizing their line-ups and the PCB increasing the pace of the operational delivery to ensure they provide quality playing facilities for the players as well as a five-star experience to the fans and our valued commercial partners.

“The HBL PSL 7 will also kick start what will be a bumper year for Pakistan cricket with the Australia men’s cricket team to play a full series in March-April with England men’s cricket side to tour Pakistan twice for white-ball and red-ball cricket.”

PSL 7 schedule

Schedule (Matches from 27 Jan-7 Feb to be played at the National Stadium, Karachi; matches from 10-27 Feb to be played at the Gaddafi Stadium)