Evaluating strengths and weaknesses of PSL 3 teams
The Pakistan Super League ‘s third edition promises more fun, more drama, more matches and more competition as stakes for the glittering trophy and prize money are raised to six teams.
With the addition of Multan Sultans, the PSL three will be longer with ten more matches. Already the PSL is rated at par with the BIG Bash in Australia, Pakistan Cricket Board has planned more extensively to take the Twenty20 league to new heights.
Pakistan’s biggest and most vibrant city Karachi is slated to host the March 25 final with the National stadium undergoing an extensive renovation for its first big match in nine years.
Batsmen: Colin Ingram, Jo Denly, Khurram Manzoor, Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan.
Allrounders: Shahid Afridi, Ravi Bopara, Imad Wasim, David Wiese, Hasan Mohsin.
Spinner: Usama Mir.
Fast bowlers: Mohammad Amir, Tymal Mills, Usman Shinwari, Tabish Khan, Mohammad Irfan Junior.
Supplementary players: Lendl Simmons, Eoin Morgan, Saifullah Bangash.
Karachi Kings are the most revamped side as they offloaded the misfiring Chris Gayle and the mercurial, Sohail Khan, who was the top wicket-taker last season.
In comes Shahid Afridi, Pakistan’s most marketable player, who will not only attract the crowds but also give Karachi, who lost in the playoffs in both preceding seasons, the X-factor. Afridi is one player who can change the complexion of the match if he stays for 20 odd balls in a Twenty20 match.
Sohail’s absence will not be felt as they have recruited Tymal Mills, the Twenty20 specialist who will be handy in a four-over burst. Mills from one end and Mohammad Amir from the other will provide fire and be a sight to behold for the fans of the game. Mohammad Irfan Junior, the emerging fast bowler, will add teeth in the pace department, having made his mark last season with Lahore.
The other big factor will be the fitness of Usman Khan Shinwari. If Shinwari is fully fir and survives the full length of the PSL then Karachi will not miss Sohail.
Colin Ingram, Joe Denly and Khurram Manzoor will be expected to get Karachi off to hectic starts while Babar Azam’s presence will give stability. There are a number of allrounders in Afridi, Imad Wasim, David Wiese and Ravi Bopara. Usama Mir will be available as a spinning option.
Though Karachi looks a utility unit, a lot will depend on how Afridi fares and the manner in which the new captain Iamd Wasim handles his players.
Imad has the capability to not only lead by example but also with command and aggression.
Batsmen: Kamran Akmal, Haris Sohail, Tamim Iqbal, Taimoor Sultan, Ibtisam Sheikh.
Allrounders: Mohammad Hafeez, Shakib Al Hasan, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy, Hammad Azam, Saad Nasim.
Spinner: Mohammad Asghar.
Fast bowlers: Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Chris Jordan, Sameen Gul.
Supplementary players: Andre Fletcher, Evin Lewis, Khalid Usman, Mohammad Arif.
Peshawar Zalmi, the defending champions, suffered their biggest loss when Shahid Afridi decided to part ways with them but despite the big loss Zalmis are in no mood to relent their aspiration for another title. It will be left to double World Twenty20 champion skipper Darren Sammy to lift a team comprising of good all-round players. Sammy did so in the final when Afridi missed the big match with a hand injury.
There will be big question on how many matches Bangladesh’s Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan will play as both will be part of Bangladesh’s team for a tri-series in Sri Lanka (march 8-18), which also involved India. Both can be available for the first five matches, enough for the Zalmis to set the early pace.
In the absence of Shakib-Tamim pair, Pakistan’s duo of Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez provide firepower at the top of the order while a fit-again Haris Sohail and Dwayne Bravo form a solid middle order. But even bigger question will be how long Hasan Ali – the highest wicket taker in ODIs last year – will take to get fit. Hasan is likely to miss the first three matches and his absence will be a severe blow to Peshawar.
Dwayne Bravo is also said to be facing race against time to get fit for the start of the PSL.
Sammy and Hammad Azam can use the long handle in the slog overs. Hasan Ali, this year’s top wicket-taker in ODIs, will lead the attack with Wahab Riaz and Chris Jordan. Sameen Gul, another promising youngster, will supplement the pace attack. Peshawar’s spin attack is also solid with Hafeez, Shakib and Mohammad Asghar not only wicket-taking options but also economical. Saad Nasim, the leg-spinning-all-rounder, can also fill in as and when needed.
It is hard to pinpoint a weakness in the Peshawar outfit but Sammy’s lack of performances may not be inspiring.
Batsmen: Brendon McCullum, Fakhar Zaman, Umar Akmal, Chris Lynn, Cameron Delport, Sohail Akhtar.
Allrounders: Aamer Yamin, Umaid Asif, Bilal Asif.
Spinners: Sunil Narine, Yasir Shah, Raza Hasan, Agha Salman
Fast bowlers: Sohail Khan, Mustafizur Rahman, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Ghulam Mudassar, Salman Irshad
Supplementary players: Mitchell McClenaghan, Gulraiz Sadaf.
Despite having one of the most formidable outfit Lahore Qalandars were unlucky to finish last in both the editions of the PSL. But that turned out to be a small consolation when Lahore Qalandars had the first choice in the pick and they did not think for a second before opting for Chris Lynn, the Australian who is the newest Twenty20 sensation. They also had the best trade by replacing Mohammad Rizwan, the wicketkeeper-batsman, with Sohail Khan, the top wicket-taker of the last edition.
Lynn will bolster a top order which already has Brendon McCullum and Fakhar Zaman while Cameroon Delport and Umar Akmal will be at hand to give impetus to the innings. The spin department is also strong with Sunil Narine, Yasir Shah, Bilal Asif (injured and will take some time to recover) and Raza Hasan. The fast bowling department is bolstered by Sohail as well as Aamer Yami who can also bat with the best effect. But injury to Bilawal Bhatti and Irfan Junior going to Karachi will hurt them. They will also look to Kashmiri’s sensational find Salman Irshad to bolster their pace attack after the lanky pacer did well on a grooming tour of Australia.
Lahore’s weakness though remains their middle-order, which has been exposed when McCullum and Fakhar have failed to give a robust start. Akmal has one more opportunity to stage a comeback to the national team, like he did from PSL 2.
Batsmen: Shoaib Malik, Kieron Pollard, Kumar Sangakkara, Sohaib Maqsood, Darren Bravo, Ahmed Shehzad, Shan Masood, Nic Pooran, Abdullah Shafiq, Saif Badar, Nic Pooran, Irfan Khan.
All-rounders: Sohail Tanvir.
Spinner: Imran Tahir.
Fast bowlers: Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Abbas.
Supplementary players: Hardus Viljoen, Umar Gul, Umar Siddiq, Ross Whiteley.
The newest franchise, bought at double the price of the previously most expensive franchise Karachi Kings ($26 million), have chosen a well-balanced side under the guidance of their boss, the legendary Wasim Akram. With Akram in the dugout and Tom Moody, the Australian, as the head coach, Multan Sultans will have enough wisdom to guide the team in PSL 3.
On the field, they will be led by the ever-green Shoaib Malik, whose PSL reputation will also be at stake after two unimpressive seasons with Karachi. Kieron Pollard and Darren Bravo will provide the stability at the top. Ahmed Shehzad– demoted to Gold from Platinium — and Sohaib Maqsood will have to redeem themselves after their form deserted them at both the international and domestic levels. Shan Masood will also be trying hard to make a place for himself in the shortest format after scoring bulk of runs (632 in departmental one day and 656 in regional one day cup) in the last few months.
That they have just one quality spinner might hurt Multan on the UAE pitches.
Batsmen: Misbah-ul-Haq, Iftikhar Ahmed, Asif Ali, JP Duminy, Luke Ronchi, Sam Billings, Sahibzada Farhan, Hussain Talat.
Allrounders: Andre Russell, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf.
Spinners: Samuel Badree, Zafar Gohar.
Fast bowlers: Mohammad Sami, Rumman Raees, Amad Butt.
Supplementary players: Alex Hales Samit Patel, Steven Finn, Mohammad Hasan, Mohammad Hasnain.
Islamabad will miss the explosive batting of Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif, who both fell into the cesspool of spot-fixing last season. They also released Dwayne Smith, the Windies dasher who is regarded as an invaluable Twenty20 player. But the return of Andre Russell – after serving a Whereabouts clause doping ban — will lift the team.
Shane Watson, the veteran Australian, has also been released but new additions like JP Duminy, Luke Ronchi and Sahibzada Farhan will prop up the batting. Sam Billings was rehired in the draft and will again be needed in the middle order once he is available in the last few matches. The ever reliable Misbah-ul-Haq as skipper will again be an inspiration — both on and off the field. But it will remain to be seen how Misbah lifts himself in his port retirement days.
The Islamabad think-tank wisely picked up allrounder Faheem Ashraf. That, and retaining Asif Ali, Hussain Talat and Amad Butt will add local flavour to the team.
Mohammad Sami and Rumman Raees, the vice-captain, will shoulder the pace attack while Shadab Khan, the leggie, will again be the X-factor in all three departments.
Batsmen: Sarfraz Ahmed, Kevin Pietersen, Rilee Rossouw, Mahmudullah, Umar Amin, Asad Shafiq, Rameez Raja Jr, Saad Ali, Saud Shakeel.
All-rounders: Shane Watson, Mohammad Nawaz, Anwar Ali.
Spinner: Hassan Khan.
Fast bowlers: Mir Hamza, Rahat Ali, Jofra Archer
Supplementary players: Jason Roy, Rashid Khan, Azam Khan, Faraz Ahmed Khan.
Quetta Gladiators are one team which do not go after big names but stack their side up with utility players. Under the shrewd coaching of Moin Khan – who has the knack to tunr boys into men – Quetta finished runners-up in both the editions of the PSL and it would be an ideal finish if they like, Perth Scorchers, win the title after two Big Bash runners-up spot.
Quetta has a strong batting line-up with Kevin Pietersen, Rilee Rossouw, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mahmudullah and Asad Shafiq in the mix. They have also picked two exciting domestic cricket performers in Saad Ali and Saud Shakil, who can surprise with their run-scoring abilities.
Shane Watson will fill the gap created by the absence of Thisara Perera, the Sri Lankan, and will add stability to the middle order. Watson played with some success for Islamabad United in the first two editions. Anwar Ali will have another chance after being unimpressive last season.
With Tymal Mills and Umar Gul gone, Quetta will be missing a genuine fast bowler. So Barbadian Jofra Archer was a last time replacement for Carlos Brahwaite who opted for World Cup qualifiers for the West Indies. But Archer also face race against time to get fully recover from a left ankle injury. They also have Mir Hamza as the spearhead, and the surprise selection of Rahat Ali may force them to rely more on their spinners.