New entrants at the HBL PSL Multan Sultans have chosen a balanced squad under the guidance of the Sultan of Swing Wasim Akram. Led by Shoaib Malik, Sultans have a rich blend of youth and experience in their squad, Sultans’ batting has enough firepower and pedigree with Malik leading the charge, globetrotting big-hitter Kieron Pollard and Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara are set to beef-up the middle-order.
Multan’s hometown hero Sohaib Maqsood and former Quetta Gladiators’ batsman Ahmed Shehzad add more muscle to the batting; under Akram’s tutelage the Sultans’ have an impressive line-up of left-arm fast bowlers. The tall Mohammad Irfan can make life tough for any batsman with his awkward bounce while Junaid Khan and Sohail Tanvir both are proven performers in the T20 format.
After two disappointing seasons the Lahore Qalandars are determined to make amends, the Qalandars management has assembled a powerful squad that features some of the most destructive batsmen of the instant format. New Zealand legend Brendon McCullum leads the team for the second successive year and is an important part of arguably the most fearsome top-order in the tournament with the likes of the six-hitting-machine Chris Lynn and Pakistan’s ICC Champions Trophy hero Fakhar Zaman complimenting his daring batting style. Umar Akmal has been a consistent run-getter for Qalandars; he’s likely to occupy one of the top four spots in the batting order.
There is also a surfeit of all-rounders at their disposal, Aamer Yamin, Bilawal Bhatti and the promising Sohail Akhtar offer balance to the eleven. The bowling line-up is impressive too with spin twins Yasir Shah and Raza Hasan backing the wiles of Bangladeshi quick Mustafizur Rahman and Sohail Khan, imported from Karachi Kings.
Watch Video: Yasir Shah bamboozles Zalmis in low scoring Dubai classic
Champions of the inaugural HBL PSL season Islamabad United enter the third season with a renewed approach. There’s a significant change at the top with one-half of the famed Ws duo Waqar Younis replacing Wasim Akram at the coveted Director Cricket spot.
Misbah ul Haq has been retained as the captain while the remainder of the squad is certainly impressive on paper with new signings Sahibzada Farhan and former New Zealand wicket-keeper batsman Luke Ronchi set to provide attacking options at the top of the batting-order. The middle-order gives a formidable look with JP Duminy, Sam Billings, Iftikhar Ahmed and the talented batting all-rounder Hussain Talat. United have retained the core of their HBL PSL 2017 bowling line-up with Mohammad Sami, newly installed vice-captain Rumman Raees, Shadab Khan and Samuel Badree all expected to play prominent roles for Misbah in United’s hunt for their second title.
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Kings have acquired the services of one of the biggest T20 names through their trade of Shahid Afridi with Peshawar Zalmi. The legendary all-rounder is set to lead the Kings’ campaign for glory on the back of his series of match winning performances for Zalmi last season. The Kings have handed over the captaincy arm band to all-rounder Imad Wasim who has been a pivotal figure in the franchise from the inaugural season.
The batting line-up has some power packed options at the top of the innings in the shape of South African import Colin Ingram, Khurram Manzoor and former Gladiators’ opener Luke Wright. Batting sensation Babar Azam, Ravi Bopara and wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan provide stability in the middle-order.
Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson is set to lead the rejigged Kings pace attack along with spearhead Mohammad Amir while Afridi, Imad and Usama Mir should be more than a handful for the opponents with their spinning deliveries.
Quetta Gladiators took everyone by surprise by their dream run in the inaugural season all the way to the tournament final. In the second season, the Gladiators continued to impress and after a second consecutive humdinger of a Play-off with Peshawar Zalmi, Sarfraz Ahmed’s side booked their place in the final. Unfortunately though the Gladiators have had to endure defeats in both HBL PSL finals but the side is determined to put the disappointing finals results to bed in the third edition.
Gladiators’ have retained Sarfraz as captain while the core of the side remains intact for the third season. T20 superstar Kevin Pietersen leads the batting charge along with South African Rilee Rossouw, Sarfraz, Australian import former United’s all-rounder Shane Watson, Asad Shafiq and Rameez Raja Jr.
West Indian T20I captain Carlos Brathwaite is the star signing for the Gladiators, he’s also set to provide back-up with the ball to the Karachi duo of Anwar and Mir Hamza. Test fast bowler Rahat Ali would be expected to provide the breakthroughs with the new ball, the Gladiators spin attack will revolve around Nawaz and Pakistan U19 captain Hassan Khan.
Defending champions Peshawar Zalmi have also retained the core of their title winning side of the 2017 season. Led by the West Indian T20 bigwig Daren Sammy, the Zalmi squad looks a formidable one on the paper.
Seasoned performers Mohammad Hafeez, Tamim Iqbal, Shakibal Hasan, Wahab Riaz, last year’s man-of-the-tournament Kamran Akmal and English fast bowler Chris Jordan are all expected to play prominent roles in Zalmi’s title defence attempt.
The batting line is equally explosive even without their season two talisman Afridi. Tamim, Kamran, Hafeez, Sammy, Shakib are expected to hold the fort for the Zalmi squad as they bid to repeat their 2017 success.