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Cricket-crazy fans in Pakistan will be able to enjoy the whole of their Twenty20 league on home soil for the first time when the star-studded fifth edition begins Thursday in Karachi.

The month-long Pakistan Super League (PSL) will see top internationals such as Dale Steyn of South Africa, Shane Watson and Chris Lynn of Australia, West Indian Carlos Brathwaite and England's Alex Hales and Jason Roy among 36 overseas players in six teams.

Matches will be shared between Karachi, Rawalpindi, Multan and Lahore after security concerns had caused most games in previous years to be played in the United Arab Emirates, with only the final stages of the last three editions being held at home.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani believes the willingness of overseas stars to sign up illustrates how security has improved in a country where the army has fought a militant insurgency for years.

So many players touring Pakistan shows the confidence they have in playing in Pakistan," said Mani, who took over last year with the aim of bringing cricket home. "For the fans, this will be a long-awaited opportunity to see their cricketing heroes live in action and reinforce their love for this great game after being left deprived."

A generation of Pakistan's youth had not watched top-flight cricket at home since a deadly attack on the Sri Lankan Test team's bus in 2009 prompted international sides to shun the country.

Six teams — Islamabad United, Karachi Kings, Lahore Qalanders Lutan Sultans, Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators — will play each other twice in a round-robin phase with the top four contesting play-offs beginning on March 17. 

The final will take place in Lahore on March 22.



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