Last year the first edition of the Pakistan Super League injected a high dosage of excitement into Pakistan’s cricketing circuit and the stage is set for yet another excitement-packed edition. The PSL opening ceremony, on February 9, is riding on the waves of Ali Zafar’s melodious tunes paired with Shaggy’s energy and is firmly staged to electrify the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Last year’s winners, Islamabad United are geared to take on Darren Sammy’s Peshawar Zalmi in PSL’s opening match. While not captaining the Zalmi’s, it is impossible to ignore the charisma and charm that accompanies Shahid Khan Afridi as he will look to terrorize any bowling opposition that he is faced with. Packed with firepower, the Zalmi’s are leaning towards greater dependence of their batting with English skipper Eoin Morgan, Tilakaratne Dilshan and Mohammad Hafeez looking to propel them to towering scores. Shakib Al Hasan’s unparalleled experience complementing speedsters Wahab Riaz and Chris Jordan will further look to rattle any batting lineup.
Captain Cool Misbah-ul-Haq will look to detonate Zalmi’s firepower as his ability to function under immense pressure coupled with his ability to instantly switch gears makes him one of the most formidable players in the Super League. Misbah’s right hand man, Shane Watson, will look to utilize his banks of experience to power through both batting as well as bowling. Steve Finn’s springy bounce and Mohammad Irfan’s daunting physique will be a challenge for even the most experienced of batsmen. Being a Pakistan cricket fan has lent me a slight bias by which I am constantly hoping against all odds that Saeed Ajmal will run the show.
Arguably the strongest side on paper, the Karachi Kings will seek to redeem themselves of their poor performance in last year’s PSL. Boasting the likes of Kumar Sangakkara, Shoaib Malik, Chris Gayle and Babar Azam, the Kings have the ability to power through any bowling lineup. All eyes will be on Chris Gayle as he looks to assert his dominance on yet another T-20 League. Keiron Pollard’s aggressive all round performance with the bat and bowl will prove pivotal for the Kings as will the bursts of swing and pace generated by youngster Mohammad Amir.
Runners-up Quetta Gladiators have further consolidated their team by drafting Nathan McCullum, Thisara Perera, Rilee Rossouw and Mahmudullah Riad into the squad. Vibrant Pakistani T-20 skipper Sarfraz Ahmed will look to pile runs for the Gladiators with assistance from the flamboyant duo of Ahmed Shehzad and Kevin Pieterson. Spinner Mohammad Nawaz will look to continue excelling in the tournament that launched his international career while Hassan Khan will look to power towards his own international exposure.
Finally, the Lahore Qalanders are led by debutant Brendon McCullum who will look to leave his mark on the Super League. His aggressive onslaught will be balanced by the composed stroke marking by Azhar Ali on the other end. Shane Warne’s proclaimed best spinner Yasir Shah will seek to bamboozle the opponents through his diverse arsenal while Sohail Tanvir’s unorthodox action would create confusion in the batsman’s mind.
The sheer depth of each team and it’s star packed presence will go towards ensuring the tournament’s success and Pakistani fans are counting down the days till they will be able to watch the stars in action at the final of the Pakistan Super League 2017, to be held in Lahore’s very own Gadaffi Stadium on 7th March. Let the games begin!