Can new captain Imad Wasim and the incoming Shahid Afridi lead the Kings to a maiden PSL win in front of their home fans?
By Amir Husain (8th February, 2018)
If the winner of PSL could be decided on the basis of big names then a team featuring the likes of the master entertainer Shahid Afridi, the world-class Mohammad Amir and former holder of ICC’s Number One ranking as a T20I bowler Imad Wasim would be the simple choice as champions of the upcoming PSL 3.
However, if the past is any guide, we all know that being good on paper or TV cameras is not a guarantee of future success as Karachi Kings have experienced in the past 2 editions of the Pakistan’s premier Twenty20 tournament.
In the inaugural edition of the PSL in 2016, Karachi Kings flattered to deceive and ended up 4th, whilst in the 2017 edition they improved their position to 3rd. A slight improvement one would say but in a tournament with just 6 teams, could this be a sign of better showing in PSL 3?
Whilst gazing into a crystal ball is sometimes a better indicator of predicting winners in T20 games, it would be instructive to have a detailed look at the Karachi Kings’ potential match winners to get an idea of how things could go for the team representing Pakistan’s largest city.
To start with, a lot is expected from Shahid Afridi who has ‘returned’ to Karachi after a stint with Peshawar Zalmi in the past editions of the tournament. He brings with him a promise of full stadia and when in the mood, lots of big shots but what Karachi Kings need from him is application of experience which could turn tight games in their favour. Boom Boom will be expected to go large and do what Chris Gayle could not do in the previous competition for Karachi.
In Imad Wasim, Karachi have a leader who is not afraid to take the game to the opposition but also has the ability to turn the game on its head with the bat and the ball. Whether being entrusted with captaincy could either bring out the best in him or could destroy his game, only time will tell but all indications are that Imad is the man for the job.
With Babar Azam, another top name in T20 cricket and the dependable Ravi Bopara who never fails to amaze with his all-round skills, and Colin Ingram who was part of the BBL 7 Champions’ Adelaide Strikers squad, Karachi will be hoping for some fireworks in the batting department to get them the scores which the bowling attack can defend with ease.
Shahid Afridi armed with his evergreen leg-spin skills and Mohammad Amir who seems to be enjoying bowling in T20s will be accompanied by a number of very able bowling options in the Karachi line-up. These include Usman Khan Shinwari who replaced Amir with some success during the ODI series against Sri Lanka last year and another T20 specialist in the form of Tymal Mills or even Tabish Khan who many will be eager to see perform in a top-level tournament such as the PSL. Usama Mir and Mohammad Irfan jr. are also likely to feature in some games, especially if the well-known names fail to perform to the level that is expected.
Karachi Kings have assembled a squad which can take them far but given past history of equally good squads in the past, one would be well advised to refrain from forecasting glory. A runners-up position in the final standing of PSL 2018 would be an achievement but then this is T20 cricket and anything can happen, including an epic win in front of doting Karachi fans in the PSL final!
Prediction: If all goes well, a 2nd place in the PSL 2018
Player to watch: Usama Mir – a good showing in this tournament could do wonders for his confidence and future prospects!
Karachi Kings Squad for PSL 2018: Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Amir, Colin Ingram, Imad Wasim (c), Babar Azam, Tymal Mills, Mohammad Rizwan, Ravi Bopara, Joe Denly, Usman Shinwari, Usama Mir, Khurram Manzoor, David Wiese, Tabish Khan, Mohammad Irfan jr., Hasan Mohsin, Mohammad Taha, Mushtaq Ahmed Kalhoro.
Supplementary: Lendl Simmons, Eoin Morgan, Saifullah Bangash.