PSL 2018: From Peshawar Zalmi to Multan Sultans, analysing the strengths and weaknesses

By | Abdul Moiz & Waqas Arain |

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Action-packed month of cricketainment awaits fans across the world as HBL Pakistan Super League season three (PSL 3), is set to start from February 22, 2018.

The first match of the PSL 2018 will be played on February 22nd, 2018 between defending champions Peshawar Zalmi and Multan Sultans at Dubai.

The glittering trophy unveiling ceremony of PSL 3 was held in Dubai on Tuesday (today).

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Najam Sethi along with all six captains, including Dareen Sammy, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Sarfraz Ahmed, Brendon McCullum and Misbah-ul-Haq are addressing a press conference.

The trophy was received by the captains of the PSL teams, and carried to the ceremony by defending champions Peshawar Zalmi skipper Darren Sammy.

Total Six teams will be seen in action this time as debutant Multan Sultans is the new addition in the PSL brand.

Here are the things you need to know about the players representing Islamabad United.

ISLAMABAD UNITED:

Islamabad United, the team that saw apogee in one season and nadir in the other. They lifted the trophy in the inaugural season while their campaign in the second season was stained by the spot fixing saga.

Three of their main players, openers Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif and bowling spearhead Mohammed Irfan were suspended. This clearly impeded their campaign s a dip in their form saw them finishing 4th after the group stages, thus giving them only one chance to book a place in the final. They lost the eliminator against Karachi Kings.

Islamabad in one of the two franchises that have kept the same captain since the inaugural season (Quetta is the other team). Misbah ul Haq, 43 will lead the team this year but there has been a change in the management. King of swing Wasim Akram, has left the team to take the coaching role in newly inducted Multan Sultan, however Islamabad was quick to replace him with hi contemporary great Waqar Younis. Two players, Ruman Raees and Shadab Khan came out of the ranks of Islamabad, thus making the franchise single biggest talent contributor to National team.

Strengths:

Islamabad’s squad appears flawless, their mangers did a great job getting all the bases covered. They have depth in batting, variety in bowling and options in spinners. But, the strongest of all are their all-rounders.

They have few of the best T20 all-rounders in their squad like Andre Russell, Samit Patel and Fahim Ashraf, all of them can hit big as well as give 4 overs in bowling, which is an invaluable leverage to have.

Weakness:

Islamabad’s squad possess no ostensible weakness, however, Misbah ul  Haq’s form will be a concern. He retired from Pakistan test team last year and since then, he hasn’t played much competitive cricket. Also, at 43, does he still possess that power in his arms is there to be seen. United will hope to strike a perfect combination according to their resources to win the title.

Players to look out for:

Sahibzada Farhan has been topping the run charts in domestic circuit. He scored 454 runs in 8 games at the average of 56.75 in the National One Day cup for Peshawar. He also scored 274 runs in 8 matches of National T20 Cup, playing for Faisalabad.

The tournament was staged just before the PSL 2018 player’s draft, and Farhan’s exploits helped him being nabbed by Islamabad United.

Squad: , Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Sami, Andre Russell, Rumman Raees, Shadab Khan, Samuel Badree, Iftikhar Ahmed, Amad Butt, Asif Ali, JP Duminy, Luke Ronchi, Faheem Ashraf, Sam Billings, Zafar Gohar, Sahibzada Farhan, Hussain Talat, Alex Hales, Steven Finn, Mohammad Hasan, Mohammad Hasnain, Rohail Nazir, Samit Patel, Chadwick Walton.

Multan Sultans:

Given this is their maiden season, Multan had no players to retain from the previous year, and instead had the pick of nine available players before the draft began. They opted for experience in a big way, their pre-draft players including Shoaib Malik, Kumar Sangakarra, Kieron Pollard, Sohail Tanvir and Junaid Khan.

At the draft, they brought in Darren Bravo, Ahmed Shehzad and Imran Tahir among a raft of other seasoned names, almost as if looking to offset the franchise’s lack of experience by filling it with players who have been around long enough.

At the same time, there appears to be shrewd and informed knowhow behind their draft picks; the inclusion of Hardus Viljoen and Ross Whiteley, relatively unknown quantities in Pakistan, indicative of that.

Strengths

Much of the Multan squad reads like a who’s who of players who have proven themselves around the world for at least a decade or so. This includes international players, of course, in the shape of Sangakarra, Tahir and Pollard, but the core of the team will be Pakistani players who are themselves impressive repositories of experience.

Malik, Junaid, Tanvir and Umar Gul will all wear the Multan shirt this season, all of them boasting a wealth of T20 experience in the conditions the PSL will be played.

Tahir has been one of the world’s best limited-overs bowlers for several years now, and though he may be considered a foreign player, the 38-year old began his career in Pakistan and may be as intimately acquainted with the subtleties of Pakistan cricket as several local players. Tanvir has a reputation for being valuable at this level, while Junaid, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Abbas and Gul provide bowling options that, on their day, can stifle any team dead in its tracks.

Weakness

The immediate concern with Multan is their biggest asset could turn out to be a huge handicap if things go awry. Their batting unit looks like it could be the envy of most Test sides, littered as it is with classical, conventional batsmen. Sangakarra, Bravo, and Shan Masood look great on paper, but big, proven power hitters – Pollard excepted – are conspicuous by their absence. Malik will have to step up into a more aggressive role than he is arguably comfortable playing. Across both PSL seasons, Malik has scored 359 runs at a strike rate of 116, which doesn’t quite cut it at T20 level.

The  Local talent from Pakistan which can represent Team Pakistan in future:

Nineteen-year old Saif Badar may not yet be a household names, but if you take the word of coaches who have worked with him, he may well be soon. Earmarked by Aqib Javed as potentially the “next batting hero” for Pakistan, Badar was prolific at the Under-19 World Cup in 2016, scoring 258 runs in six matches, including an unbeaten 75 against England. A right-handed batsman with a high backlift and the ability to generate easy power, Badar could well be the newest youngster to use the PSL as a launchpad for an international career, much like Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz did in previous years.

Squad: Shoaib Malik (capt), Kieron Pollard, Kumar Sangakarra, Imran Tahir, Junaid Khan, Darren Bravo, Ahmed Shehzad, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Irfan, Sohaib Maqsood, Irfan Khan, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Nicholas Pooran, Abdullah Shafique, Saif Badar, Hardus Viljoen, Umar Gul, Ross Whiteley, Umar Siddiq, Shan Masood, Thisara Perera.

PESHAWAR ZALMI:

The most animated team of PSL, Pehsawar Zalmi has been the most consistent teams of the PSL after Quetta Gladiators. They lifted the title last year in Lahore and lagged 2 steps behind to lift the first year’s title as well. They topped the points table after group stages in both the seasons. They won 10 of their 16matches in both season, a record that has been equaled by only Quetta Gladiators.

This year however, they have lost their most attractive star power Shahid Khan Afridi who has switched cities and is to play Karachi, the city that shaped his cricketing career. Afridi has been instrumental for Zalmi in both season with his sporadic late order hits and key wickets off his bowling.

Peshawar is being led by vivacious Darren Sammy who is into his second year as captain. They haven’t tweaked their squad much and have kept their main players like Mohammed Hafeez, Tamim Iqbal, Shakib al Hassan, Mohammed Asghar and Hassan Ali (who will miss the initial matches because of injury). The squad appears a god blend of senior and juniors.

Strength:

Peshawar appears very strong in their top order. Their top 4 which consist of Tamim Iqbal, Kamran Akmal, Mohammed Hafeez and Shakib al Hassan can dismantle any bowling attack on the given day.

In the middle order they have Haris Sohail who has shown the glimpse of his talent in recent New Zealand tour with twin fifties. He will probably bat at 5 will probably be accompanied by Rikki Wessels and Khushdil Shah.  With this batting, Peshawar can expect big scores.

Weakness:

The most exciting fast bowler of Paksitan currently is a part of Peshawar Zalmi, but, he is out due to an injury. With him being out, the onus is entirely on Wahab Riaz – the leading wicket taker of the PSL – and the debutant Sameen Gul.  Junaid Khan who last year shared the new ball has moved to Multan Sultan. In the absence of Hassan, fast bowling appears a bit of concern for Zalmis as they don’t have genuine fast bowlers in their ranks. Also, Zalmi lack a power hitter who can come in and nonchalantly clear the ground at the late end of the innings. They do have couple of all rounders like Chris Jordan and Dwayne Bravo, both of which are more of bowling all-rounders not famous for hitting big.

Players to watch out for:

Khusdil Shah, 23 is an emerging talent of Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa. Playing for FATA, he scored 389 runs in 7 matches @ 55.57 including four fifties in the National T20 Cup. A strike rate of 112 in T20 doesn’t portray an apt picture of his big hitting ability which will be vital in middle order.

Sameen Gul is the new pace sensation in the town. Right arm fast with a rather smooth action, Sameen made headlines even before bursting on the scene. He has just turned 19 and has already played 13 first-class matches and accounting for 62 wickets @ 15.5 with a career best figure of 8/44. If he establishes himself in this PSL, he’ll definitely be a prodigious bowler, ne to look out for in future.

Squad: Darren Sammy, Mohammad Hafeez, Wahab Riaz, Shakib al Hasan, Kamran Akmal,, Hasan Ali, Haris Sohail, Chris Jordan, Mohammad Asghar, Dwayne Bravo, Tamim Iqbal, Hammad Azam, Saad Nasim, Taimoor Sultan, Sameen Gul, Ibtisam Sheikh, Andre Fletcher, Rikki Wessels, Khalid Usman, Muhammad Arif, Khushdil Shah, Liam Dawson (cover for Shakib al Hasan), Umaid Asif (cover for Hasan Ali).

 

QUETTA GLADIATORS:

Quetta Gladiators, the finalist both seasons are arguably the most consistent side in PSL. They won 10 out of 16 total matches across two seasons, a record that is equaled only by Peshawar Zalmi. In both the seasons, they finished second on points table and defeated Peshawar in the first qualifier both times – astonishingly by 1 run on both occasions – to book a place in the final. However, this last step has been an obstacle they’re yet to cross. They lost to Islamabad and Peshawar in finals of PSL 1 and PSL 2 respectively.

The underdogs of PSL, Quetta disproved the prophecies in both the seasons. They were the least expensive franchise of PSL, but, still they managed to strike an eleven that was consistent and won them the games. Even in the crunch moments, the team excelled and came out victorious. Quetta relied on their top order for impetus. Ahmed Shehzad, Kevin Pitersen. When they failed to provide a good start, the middle order comprising of Rilee Rossouw, Sarfraz Ahmed and Mahmudullah stabilized the inning.

Quetta isn’t a star studded side. Many of their players aren’t considered T20 specialist, but, the formula of having 2 3 big names and then build a team of not-so-known around them worked out well. This year however, they acquired probably the best T20 batsman and bowler; Jason Roy and Rashid Khan.

Strengths:

Quetta has thrived on their bowling unit. They won many low scoring games, defending modest targets. Their bowling was led by Mohammed Nawaz who took 13 and 10 wickets and the two seasons respectively. This year, the induction of Rashid khan will be a boost to their squad. He’s currently the No. 2 ranked bowler in ICC ODI and T20 rankings. Arguably the most deceptive bowler, Rashid googly has been a mystery for batsmen all around the world and that has made him a lucrative deal for franchises all over the world. With him, Jofra Archer, who just had an outstanding BBL is there to lead the pace attack that comprises of left arm fast bolwer Mir Hamza, allrounders Shane Watson, Umer Amin and Anwar Ali.

Weakness:

Quetta has far too many batsmen that play with a similar style. They are not outright hitters. All of them take time to get set and then build on their innings. If they manage to do so, it’s an advantage, if they fail, they’re a liability as they waste too many balls. In the tope order, only Kevin Pietersen Jason Roy looks to be the ones who can hit the ball on desire. Shane Watson big hitting ability is depleting. Asad Shafiq has repeatedly failed in limited overs. He can play in top gear. Rookie Saud Shakeel’s big hitting ability is yet to be tested. Sarfraz is a good rotator and can play briskly only if he comes at 4. Mahmudullah, Umar Amin are of same style. Quetta will find themselves in predicament if they are made to case a big score and both KP and Roy fail.

Player to look out for:

Saud Shakeel, left handed middle order batsman hails from Karachi. Just 22, he was picked by Quetta in the draft selection. He has a stance akin to Salman Butt’s premeditated shuffle across the crease. In the recently concluded National One Day cup, playing for Rawalpindi, Saud amassed 334 runs in 7 matches at a towering average of 83 and a strike rate of 100 plus. His 134*helped trounce FATA. He has a list a average of 47.58 and a first class average of 43.17. Although he hasn’t proved himself in T20 cricket, PSL can be a launch pad for him.

Squad:

Sarfraz Ahmed, Kevin Pietersen, Rilee Rossouw, Mohammad Nawaz, Anwar Ali, Mahmudullah, Umar Amin, Mir Hamza, Asad Shafiq, Shane Watson, Jofra Archer (replaced Carlos Brathwaite), Rahat Ali, Rameez Raja Jr, Saad Ali, Saud Shakeel, Hassan Khan, Mohammad Junaid, Jason Roy, Rashid Khan, Moin Khan (jr.), Faraz Ahmed, John Hastings (replaced Albie Morkel who was a cover for Jason Roy), Chris Green (cover for Rashid Khan), Ben Laughlin (cover for Jofra Archer).

Lahore Qalandars:

The big question is if the Lahore Qalandars can go all the way and make it their first ever title in the PSL and for that they look like they have the line-up.

After having retained Brendon McCullum from the previous season he is to captain the side this season as well. But what makes it interesting is that they brought in Chris Lynn for the third season, an Aussie batsman who has played under McCullum at the Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League. If Lynn remains fit, no bowling will be strong enough to stop the Baz-Lynn duo.

Also retained from the previous season are the likes of Sunil Narine and Yasir Shah, while Mustafizur Rahman will look to bring back his bowling form too.

Others who have held their placed from season 2 are legendary Pakistani batsman Umar Akmal, recent Champions Trophy hero Fakhar Zaman, Cameron Delport, Aamer Yamin and Bilawal Bhatti.

Joining these players in the squad after the PSL Draft are the likes of Bilal Asif, Raza Hasan, Sohail Akhtar, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Ghulam Mudassar.

There will also be three Supplementary players who could feature for the side this season in case they are needed in the form of Angelo Mathews, Mitchell McClenaghan and Gulraiz Sadaf.

The Qalandars have also roped in former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar as a mentor. He will work with the Lahore fast bowlers alongside another former Pakistani fast bowler, Aaquib Javed. Aaquib is the franchise director. Former Pakistani legendary cricketer Inzamam-ul-Haq, who has now taken over the role of the Pakistan selector, will join the Lahore Qalandars as an advisor.

Former South Africa international coach Paddy Upton has been put in charge by the owners of this franchise. Upton is a reputed coach with plenty of experience at the biggest stage and his presence in the dressing room is likely to have a very positive impact on the players.

Squad:

Full Team: Cameron Delport, Fakhar Zaman, Brendon McCullum (captain), Sohail Akhtar, Aamer Yamin, Bilawal Bhatti, Bilal Asif, Anton Devcich, Umar Akmal, Gulraiz Sadaf, Sohail Khan, Sunil Narine, Yasir Shah, Ghulam Mudassar, Mitchell McClenaghan, Raza Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman, Shaheen Afridi, Imran Khan, Dinesh Ramdin.

Batsmen: Cameron Delport, Fakhar Zaman, Brendon McCullum (captain), Sohail Akhtar.

All-rounders: Aamer Yamin, Bilawal Bhatti, Bilal Asif, Anton Devcich (replaced Angelo Mathews)

Wicket-keepers: Umar Akmal, Gulraiz Sadaf.

Bowlers: Sohail Khan, Sunil Narine, Yasir Shah, Ghulam Mudassar, Mitchell McClenaghan, Raza Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman, Shaheen Afridi, Imran Khan

Player Covers: Dinesh Ramdin (cover for Chris Lynn).

 

Karachi Kings Team analyses:

After having a couple of really underwhelming seasons, the Karachi Kings will want to do a lot better in this third season of the Pakistan Super League.

They made a few interesting choices as far as retaining players from the previous season is concerned. Letting go off Chris Gayle, they have managed to hold back Pakistan’s Usman Khan and Usama Mir even as Ravi Bopara gets another go. His dibbly-dobbly medium-pacers could be of use on slow and sluggish surfaces.

The side will be led by Imad Wasim and will also have Babar Azam and Mohammad Amir in their line-up, thereby making it a side that is very dependent on their Pakistani players to dish out a good performance during the third PSL season. Wasim is one of the biggest upcoming stars in this format of the game.

In what came as very interesting news, legendary all-rounder Shahid Afridi decided to join the Kings from Peshawar Zalmis and Mohammad Rizwan was traded for Sohail Khan from Lahore Qalandars. Of course, that meant they could target foreigners during the PSL Draft and their Platinum pick was Colin Ingram. He was followed by the Diamond pick of Mitchell Johnson and a Gold round selection of smashing opener Luke Wright for the side.

However, due to some personal reasons Johnson has skipped himself from PSl 3.

Some of the others who will be involved this season are David Wiese, Tabish Khan, Mohammad Irfan Jnr. and Hasan Mohsin while the Supplementary players are Colin Munro, Eoin Morgan and Saifullah Bangash, who could be involved in a few matches.

The Karachi Kings will be bolstered by the news that six of their seven overseas cricketers have agreed to play in Pakistan. Having selected Lendl Simmons, Colin Ingram, Joe Denly, Ravi Bopara, David Wiese, Tymal Mills and Eoin Morgan as the foreign players, the first six names in this list have all said they will be willing to feature in the PSL for those games which will be played in Pakistan as well.

The only player who will be leaving early from the competition will be England captain Eoin Morgan. Morgan won’t stay with the team for as long as the PSL Finals, during which the games will be played in Karachi and Lahore.

The side were bought by Salman Iqbal owned Any Media Group for a whopping price of $2.4 million US dollars. They have appointed former South African international coach Mickey Arthur as their manager while former Pakistan leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed will serve as his assistant and bowling coach. Karachi Kings players 2018 list is placed below.

Karachi Kings Squad 2018

Batsmen: Eoin Morgan, Lendl Simmons (replaced Colin Munro), Babar Azam, Khurram Manzoor, Colin Ingram, Joe Denly (replaced Luke Wright)

All-rounders: Imad Wasim (captain), Shahid Afridi, Ravi Bopara, Hasan Mohsin, David Wiese, Mohammad Taha

Wicket-keepers: Mohammad Rizwan, Saifullah Bangash

Bowlers: Mohammad Amir, Usama Mir, Usman Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Tabish Khan, Tymal Mills (replaced Mitchell Johnson).

Full Squad: Eoin Morgan, Lendl Simmons (replaced Colin Munro), Babar Azam, Khurram Manzoor, Colin Ingram, Joe Denly, Imad Wasim (captain), Shahid Afridi, Ravi Bopara, Hasan Mohsin, David Wiese, Mohammad Taha, Mohammad Rizwan, Saifullah Bangash, Mohammad Amir, Usama Mir, Usman Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Tabish Khan, Tymal Mills.

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