Pakistan Super League’s 6th edition is couple of hours away and the city war is about to begin in Pakistan. The fans of all teams are already bragging about the players as they believe they have the best squads.
We will try to analyse the players picked by all teams, considering their past performances, the conditions and their strength. All of the teams look balanced on the paper but some teams took big risks by picking players who would not be available for whole competition. It would be interesting to see if their gamble will work or not.
Most of the teams retained all 8 available players, but Peshawar Zalmi retained only 5 players, which were their most experienced campaigners Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal and Wahab Riaz. They were the team who had to pick more players than others in the draft and it would not be wrong, if it is said Peshawar Zalmi’s squad looks most stable.
They picked South Africa’s David Miller as their platinum pick, who has around 7000 runs in T20 cricket with a healthy average of 34.32 and strike rate of 138.02. Miller, also known as Killer-Miller, has also scored 3 centuries in T20 cricket. To have him in the middle-order with Shoaib Malik, the third highest run getter in T20 cricket will be a huge boost for Peshawar Zalmi. They will have Kamran Akmal, the highest run getter of PSL and Haider Ali, the aggressive young talent in the top order. They also have young English opener Liam Livingstone in the squad, who may not be available for all matches due to international commitment, but still when he gets going, he can be a threat for bowlers.
Peshawar also picked Amad Butt, who played for Islamabad United in the earlier seasons and is a handy all-rounder. They will have England’s Saqib Mehmood, Muhammad Irfan Senior and Umaid Asif to accompany Wahab Riaz in the bowling department. But their most important pick in bowlers has to be Afghanistan’s Mujeeb-Ur-Rehman, the second ranked T20 bowler in ICC rankings.
They will have fire power in batting department along with experienced all-rounders like Amad Butt and Ravi Bopara, with depth in the bowling as well. So Peshawar Zalmi look like contenders for winning trophy for the second time surely.
The defending champions Karachi Kings did not impress much in the drafts as they could add many big names in their squad. Although they retained their big players Babar Azam, Muhammad Amir and Imad Wasim along with South Africa’s Colin Ingram, Sharjeel Khan and Aamer Yamin, but they did not have any platinum pick in the draft.
They managed to draft Muhammad Nabi and Dan Christian in the Diamond round, but it appeared as if they had picked them on the base of their form in Big Bash League (BBL). Although both players are doing good for their teams in Australia’s league, but conditions in Pakistan would be different and they have not have same success here. They picked youngsters like Danish Aziz, Muhammad Ilyas and Zeeshan Malik along with England’s Joe Clarke, who everybody will be looking at, as some of these youngsters have a bright future ahead of them.
Lahore Qalandars also had a great draft and became a source of joy for their fans, as they added World No.1 T20 bowler Rashid Khan in their team. The spinner can be unplayable on his days and would be a big threat for any opposition in Pakistan’s conditions.
Rashid Khan may not be available for all matches as the CEO of Lahore Qalandars himself admitted that Rashid Khan might miss first 5 games. But if he clicks after joining the team, he could be very handy in the latter stages of the tournament, with the pitches becoming slow. But if the gamble does not work and Rashid Khan snubbed at nick of the time, then Lahore Qalandars might be in big trouble.
Having Zeeshan Ashraf, who previously played for Multan Sultans and England’s Joe Denly was also a smart move by Lahore Qalandars, as they also made their batting department strong. But their bowling department surely looks the best with Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Dilbar Hussain, Samit Patel and of course, Rashid Khan.
Islamabad United surprised many in the draft, as they had the first pick and took wildcard by adding Hassan Ali in the squad. It was also a big gamble, as it appeared captain Shadab Khan focused more on completing the “Roti gang” in his team. For those who don’t know, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Asif Ali and Hassan Ali are known as roti gang. But it would be interesting to see if the roti gang will click inside the ground as well.
Quetta Gladiators fans were surely overjoyed after watching their management pick some of the biggest names of the league. “The universe boss” Chris Gayle was added to the squad of defending champions and former World No.1 bowler Dale Steyn was picked as supplementary player. England’s Tom Banton, who previously played for Peshawar Zalmi was also picked by Quetta and further strengthened their bowling by adding Usman Shinwari.
The 2019 champions look like a very balanced team with hard hitters like Azam Khan, Ben Cutting, Gayle and Cameron Delport in their side. They have bowlers like Naseem Shah, Muhammad Hasnain, Usman Shinwari, who can easily click around 150 mph. There will be Umar Gul as bowling coach and Dale Steyn to help these bowlers as well.
Another team who failed to impress their fans was Multan Sultans, who added Chris Lynn in their team as platinum player. Apart from last match that he played, Chris Lynn was not very consistent in PSL 5. They could not add any diamond or gold players but added Sohail Khan, Muhammad Rizwan and Sohaib Maqsood, who cannot be called very impressive T20 players.
Interestingly there were some surprises in unpicked players list. Youngsters like Abdullah Shafique, Umar Khan and Saif Badar, Hasan Mohsin and Muhammad Huraira went unpicked. Abdullah Shafique had scored debut on T20 debut in National T20 Cup and was picked for national team as well. But after some failures in New Zealand, all teams lost their interest in him.
Writer is a sports lover, who passionately watches Cricket, Football, Tennis and especially all sports featuring Pakistan. Previously worked for 4 mainstream channels Dawn, Samaa, Dunya and 92 News in past. Currently working with GNN.