LONDON: The Pakistan Super League gets underway this weekend — with games split between Pakistan and the UAE for the third year in a row — and Islamabad United are looking to defend their title and a third straight crown.
Lahore and Karachi will play host to some games, while Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah in the emirates will stage the majority of games.
International audiences will be casting their eyes over new signings Ian Bell and Phil Salt after they were added to the Islamabad squad for this season.
Bell averaged 187 against spin in T20s last year and has been brought in to counter the array of spinning talent on show across the league.
Meanwhile Salt could uniquely be set for a role as an opener or a finisher after scoring 433 runs at a strike rate of 173.20 in the shortest format in 2018.
Allrounder Samit Patel will also be involved in his second PSL after taking 13 wickets in his nine previous games, and South African duo Wayne Parnell and Cameron Delport will take part in their first PSL.
Statistically the most successful team in the PSL, Islamabad United will be looking for a third title after winning the tournament in the inaugural year in 2016 and then again in 2018.
Holding a near-60 percent success rate since the tournament’s inception in 2016, United are under new leadership this year following Misbah-ul-Haq’s move to Peshawar Zalmi, with Luke Ronchi now the man looking to bring yet more success to the holders.
The Kiwi was the league’s leading run-scorer in 2018’s edition, scoring 435 at a strike rate of 182.
Islamabad United will open the fourth season of the PSL when they face the Lahore Qalandars in Dubai.