The 2019 Pakistan Super League will provide a series of firsts for supporters. In the fourth season of the Twenty20 league, which starts in Dubai in February, AB de Villiers will be making his tournament debut.
Abu Dhabi will host PSL matches for the first time – four in two days – while supporters based back in Pakistan will now get to see regular league season games.
Where finals matches have been played in Lahore and Karachi in the past two seasons, now the franchises representing those two cities will get to play in front of home faithful.
That means long-suffering Lahore Qalandars supporters will – assuming he agrees to make the trip – get to see new signing De Villiers in the flesh.
“We have an excellent and balanced team,” new Qalandars captain Mohammed Hafeez said. “I am sure the boys will benefit from AB’s rich experience, and AB himself will have a great time with us.”
For all the new features, there are many old favourites, too.
Shahid Afridi will be back – this time with a third team. Having started out with Peshawar Zalmi, then moved on to Karachi Kings, he is now with a new franchise, yet to be named, and formed from the remnants of Multan Sultans.
“We look forward to welcoming Steve Smith and Shahid Afridi, two absolute legends of the game, to the side and hope they will play their lead roles in helping us cross the line,” said Shoaib Malik, the captain of the “sixth team”.
The defending champions are the most successful side in the three-year history of the PSL, having won the first tournament in 2015, as well as last year. They have an overall win percentage of 61.
Captain: Luke Ronchi (New Zealand)
Pick of their Pakistanis: Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Asif Ali
Overseas stars: Samit Patel (England), Ian Bell (England), Zahir Khan (Afghanistan)
The Kings will have to improve if they are to make it back to a final in their home stadium – where they will play two group-stage matches. They have the second worst win percentage in PSL history, of 42.
Captain: Imad Wasim
Pick of their Pakistanis: Mohammed Amir, Babar Azam, Usman Shinwari
Overseas stars: Colin Munro (New Zealand), Sikandar Raza (Zimbabwe), Liam Livingstone (England)
Historically the worst-performing franchise, with a meagre win rate of just 35 per cent. But Qalandars did add some silverware to their bare trophy cabinet by winning the Abu Dhabi T20 this year.
Captain: Mohammed Hafeez
Pick of their Pakistanis: Fakhar Zaman, Shaheen Afridi, Yasir Shah
Overseas stars: Sandeep Lamichanne (Nepal), AB de Villiers (South Africa), Corey Anderson (New Zealand)
The only side other than Islamabad United to have their name on the PSL trophy, having won it in 2016. They also have the second-best win rate, having won 58 per cent of their matches.
Captain: Daren Sammy (West Indies)
Pick of their Pakistanis: Wahab Riaz, Kamran Akmal, Hasan Ali
Overseas stars: Liam Dawson (England), Dawid Malan (England), Kieron Pollard (West Indies)
They might consider themselves unfortunate not to have won the title yet, having been regular finalists under the captaincy of Sarfraz Ahmed. The side from Quetta have won 57 per cent of their matches.
Captain: Sarfraz Ahmed
Pick of their Pakistanis: Umar Akmal, Sohail Tanvir, Anwar Ali
Overseas stars: Fawad Ahmed (Australia), Sunil Narine (West Indies), Dwayne Bravo (West Indies)
As yet still to be formally named, but they will be formed from the remnants of the short-lived Multan Sultans franchise, which won 44 per cent of the matches in their brief existence.
Captain: Shoaib Malik
Pick of their Pakistanis: Shahid Afridi, Mohammed Irfan, Junaid Khan
Overseas stars: Nicholas Pooran (West Indies), Steve Smith (Australia), Qais Ahmed (Afghanistan)
Thu Feb 14
Dubai – Islamabad United v Lahore Qalandars
Fri Feb 15
Dubai – Sixth team v Karachi Kings, Peshawar Zalmi v Quetta Gladiators
Sat Feb 16
Dubai – Islamabad United v Sixth team, Lahore Qalandars v Karachi Kings
Sun Feb 17
Dubai – Islamabad United v Quetta Gladiators, Peshawar Zalmi v Lahore Qalandars
Wed Feb 20
Sharjah – Quetta Gladiators v Sixth team
Thu Feb 21
Sharjah – Peshawar Zalmi v Karachi Kings
Fri Feb 22
Sharjah – Sixth team v Lahore Qalandars, Islamabad United v Peshawar Zalmi
Sat Feb 23
Sharjah – Quetta Gladiators v Lahore Qalandars, Islamabad United v Karachi Kings
Sun Feb 24
Sharjah – Peshawar Zalmi v Sixth team, Quetta Gladiators v Karachi Kings
Tue Feb 26
Dubai – Sixth team v Islamabad United
Wed Feb 27
Dubai – Lahore Qalandars v Quetta Gladiators, Karachi Kings v Islamabad United
Thu Feb 28
Dubai – Sixth team v Peshawar Zalmi, Karachi Kings v Lahore Qalandars
Fri Mar 1
Dubai – Peshawar Zalmi v Islamabad United, Sixth team v Quetta Gladiators
Mon Mar 4
Abu Dhabi – Quetta Gladiators v Peshawar Zalmi, Karachi Kings v Sixth team
Tue Mar 5
Abu Dhabi – Lahore Qalandars v Peshawar Zalmi, Quetta Gladiators v Islamabad United
Thu Mar 7
Karachi – Karachi Kings v Peshawar Zalmi
Sat Mar 9
Lahore – Lahore Qalandars v Islamabad United
Sun Mar 10
Karachi – Karachi Kings v Quetta Gladiators
Lahore – Lahore Qalandars v Sixth team
Tue Mar 12
Lahore – Eliminator 1
Wed Mar 13
Karachi – Qualifier
Fri Mar 15
Karachi – Eliminator 2
Sat Mar 16
Sun Mar 17
Karachi - Final