Pakistan Super League set to excite
The second annual Pakistan Super League brought to you by StarSat looks set to be a Twenty20 extravaganza to remember with plenty of big names set to turn out.
The PSL, 20/20, consists of 5 teams, Islamabad United, Karachi Kings, Peshawar Zalmi, Quetta Gladiators and Lahore Qalandars who will take each other on in the Pakistan Super League, which will be broadcast live on StarSat, Sports Premium, channel 246, from the 9th February to the 7th March.
The T20 showpiece will feature big names like Brendon McCullum, Kieron Pollard, Marlon Samuels, Kumar Sangakkara, Shahid Afridi and Eoin Morgan.
The games will largely be played in the UAE, although there are plans to stage the final in Lahore subject to security clearances.
The reigning champions Islamabad United, led by Pakistan Test skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, will have to do without West Indies star Andre Russell after he was hit with a one-year ban for missing a drugs test but they will still have plenty of star power with Shane Watson, Sam Billings and Dwayne Smith in their squad.
Islamabad United have the oldest squad in the tournament but you would underestimate these ‘old dogs’ at your peril.
Islamabad United squad: Sharjeel Khan, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Khalif Latif, Misbah-ul-Haq, Sam Billings, Amad Butt, Saeed Ajmal, Samuel Badree, Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Irfan, Steven Finn, Asif Ali, Rumman Raees, Imran Khalid, Hussain Talat, Dwayne Smith, Ben Duckett, Shadab Khan, Zohaib Khan.
The Lahore Qalanders finished dead last in the inaugural PSL but are eager to turn things around this campaign as evidenced by the 14 changes they have made to their squad.
Pakistan ODI skipper Azhar Ali has been ditched in favour of globetrotting former Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum, who recently guided the Brisbane Heat to the Big Bash League semi-finals.
South Africa’s Cameron Delport and England’s Jason Roy will offer plenty of hitting power while the Qalanders traded West Indies star Chris Gayle for the wily Sohail Tanvir formerly of the Karachi Kings.
Lahore Qalanders squad: Brendon McCullum, Jason Roy, Cameron Delport, Umar Akmal, Saif Badar, Mohammad Rizwan, Aamer Yamin, Sohail Tanvir, Sunil Narine, Yasir Shah, Ghulam Mudassir, James Franklin, Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Zafar Gohar, Bilawal Bhatti, Usman Qadir, Grant Elliott, Chris Green, Mohammad Irfan.
The Karachi Kings will be able to call on arguably one of the all-time T20 greats in the shape of big-hitting Chris Gayle, who will no doubt be looking to smash a ton in this tournament which to date is the only event he hasn’t scored a hundred in.
The Kings have plenty of firepower to back up the big gun with Sri Lanka legends Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene joining forces once again.
Former Protea Ryan McClaren and former England international Ravi Bopara lend experience in the lower order to supplement an abundance of local and international talent.
Karachi Kings squad: Chris Gayle, Babar Azam, Kumar Sangakkara, Shoaib Malik, Ravi Bopara, Kieron Pollard, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Sohail Khan, Rahat Ali, Abrar Ahmed, Shahzaib Hassan, Ryan McLaren, Saifullah Bangash, Khurram Manzoor, Kashif Bhatti, Hasan Mohsin, Mahela Jayawardena, Usama Mir, Amad Alam.
Peshawar Zalmi were tactically inept in the latter stages of last year’s competition under former captain Shahid but this year fans can look forward to World T20 winning skipper Darren Sammy leading the squad with the star batsman of that tournament Marlon Samuels joining his compatriot.
Zalmi may have a problem should they reach the final with England skipper Morgan and teammate Chris Jordan as well as the Bangladesh duo of Tamim Iqbal and Shakib-al-Hasan not available for the latter stages of this event due to international commitments.
Zalmi will be able to call on some of Pakistan’s best players in the form of Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal and Wahab Riaz.
Peshawar Zalmi squad: Mohammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal, Marlon Samuels, Eoin Morgan, Sohaib Maqsood, Shahid Afridi, Darren Sammy, Chris Jordan, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan Mohammad Asghar, Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Imran Khan Jr., Iftikhar Ahmed, Haris Sohail, Dawid Malan, Mohammad Irfan Khan, Umair Masood. (Tillakaratne Dilshan and Samit Patel are stand-by players for Tamim and Shakib)
The Quetta Gladiators were the surprise package of last season finishing as the tournaments runners up in a campaign that put their home base on the map.
They look like an extremely competitive unit again this season boasting big hitters up top in former England skipper and T20 gun-for-hire Kevin Pietersen and former Protea opener Rilee Roussow.
Sri Lankan allrounder Thisara Perera will give the Gladiators another option as a fnisher and he has proved to be a handy bowler in the game’s shortest format.
It will be interesting to see if the express pace of England paceman Tymal Mills is effective on the typically dull pitches in the UAE.
The squad will be led by Pakistan T20 skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, who has been tipped to become the ODI skipper as well.
Quetta Gladiators squad: Ahmed Shehzad, Luke Wright, Kevin Pietersen, Rilee Rossouw, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Anwar Ali, Umar Gul, Zulfiqar Babar, Hasan Khan, Tymal Mills, Mahmudullah Riad, Asad Shafiq, Saad Nasim, Umar Amin, Noor Wali, Bismillah Khan, Mir Hamza, Thisara Perera, Nathan McCullum, M Nabi (partially available).
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