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Preview of defending champions Islamabad United and their chances of success in the fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League.

By Titan24 (8th February, 2019)

Islamabad United are the defending champions and winners of 2 out of 3 PSL editions overall. Since the very first edition, things to look out for in the Islamabad United franchise have been their professional management and the atmosphere they provide for their players to flourish. The number of players that have graduated from Islamabad United to represent Pakistan proves that they are definitely doing something right. Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Mohammad Sami, Shadab Khan, Asif Ali, Hussain Talat, Sahibzada Farhan are amongst the players who Islamabad provided a platform for, and they went on to play for Pakistan.

One of the things to keep in mind is that there's a number of United players who are looking for redemption this year, to revive or ignite their careers. Sahibzada Farhan wasn’t able to perform up to expectations in his debut edition of PSL last year and wasn’t able to create the anticipated impact at the international level either during the limited opportunities he got; he will surely be working hard to show his talent and improvement to the fans and selectors. Asif Ali gained popularity after hitting three sixes to CT 2017 Man of the Tournament Hasan Ali against Peshawar Zalmi - his international performances have frustrated both fans and selectors but his ability to hit the ball is undeniable. Whether he can improve his consistency and hitting zones and finish matches in PSL can be a deciding factor for his international career. Hussain Talat will be another one who will be looking to show he can win matches for his team rather than just being another player who is decent but not looked at as dangerous.

 
 


Strengths

All-rounders - They have a pretty solid outfit this time around with their main strength being all-rounders who provide both batting and bowling depth to the team. Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Samit Patel, Wayne Parnell and Hussain Talat are some of the all-rounders who have represented their national teams while Amad Butt is one to look out for though he is yet to play international cricket.

Variety in bowling attack - They have all kinds of variety in their bowling attack with the pace of Mohammad Sami and Muhammad Musa, movement with new ball and variations of Rumman Raees and Waqas Maqsood, decent height with good pace and movement from Amad Butt and who can forget the highest wicket taker of the last edition of PSL, Faheem Ashraf. Hussain Talat provides some medium-pace variety and can contribute a few useful overs occasionally while Cameron Delport provides slower version of medium pace which can be handy on slower tracks. They have all the bases covered in the spin department as well, with the leg spin/googly of their vice-captain Shadab Khan, slow left-arm spin from promising youngster Zafar Gohar and veteran Samit Patel, along with left-arm chinaman via Afghan spin sensation Zahir Khan.

Emerging players - Mohammad Musa and Rizwan Hussain are two of the most promising young players in the league and considering one emerging player is a must in the playing 11, a strong emerging player can play a big role in the outlook of the team.


Weaknesses

One of the weakness for Islamabad United will be their leadership with the absence of their successful and experienced captain Misbah-ul-Haq who won them two editions as captain and was also the captain of the World #1 ranked Test team in 2016. Misbah will be playing for Peshawar Zalmi in this edition of PSL. Newly appointed captain Mohammad Sami is a very experienced campaigner himself and one of the main bowlers for United and has some experience of captaincy at domestic level; what he can deliver as captain in PSL is yet to be seen.


Players to watch out for

Amongst the batsmen, Luke Ronchi was the highest run-scorer in the last edition of PSL with a SR of over 180. Ian Bell will provide the much needed experience and stability in batting and will be playing the role of an anchor. Rizwan Hussain and Phil Salt are two of the young batsmen who have showed a lot of promise in their domestic setups and it won't be surprising to see these youngsters setting this edition of PSL on fire if given the opportunity. 

With the ball, Shadab Khan will be a threat, with his variations and ability to outplay the batsman. Faheem Ashraf was the highest wicket-taker last year and can again create an impact with consistent lines and the extra bounce he generates through his action. Rumman Raees, though he will be making a comeback after a long injury lay off, has skills with the ball, both new and old which can’t be ignored. Muhammad Musa impressed everyone with his pace and nip in the Under-19 World Cup and is definitely an emerging player to watch out for.


Verdict

On paper, the team has a good chance of reaching the finals yet again but the leadership of Mohammad Sami can be the deciding factor. Along with Misbah, the absence of Andre Russell in the squad is a big miss - he is one player but he's won the most T20 leagues around the world which shows his value. It will be a challenge for Islamabad United to retain their title.


Squad

Luke Ronchi, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Asif Ali, Mohammad Sami ©, Ian Bell, Rumman Raees, Samit PatelPhil Salt, Hussain Talat, Waqas Maqsood, Sahibzada Farhan, Zafar Gohar, Cameron DelportMohammad MusaNasir NawazWayne ParnellZahir Khan, Amad Butt, Rizwan Hussain

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