PSL 9: Tough competitions ahead | Sports |


PSL 9: Tough competitions ahead

When this article appears, HBL PSL 9 will have started as the opener between defending champions Lahore Qalandars and Islamabad United was scheduled to be held at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, on Saturday night.

This edition is highly significant as it is being held ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup which will be jointly hosted by the US and West Indies in June.

All top cricketers of Pakistan playing in the PSL will be looking to impress the selectors.

World Cup squad hope will push the players to perform upto the mark.

One hopes it will be a fine season. In the event, 34 matches will be conducted in four different venues.

Lahore and Rawalpindi will host nine matches each, five matches will be conducted at the Multan Cricket Stadium while Karachi will host 11 matches including the March 18 final.

Tight security arrangements have been made for ensuring safe conduct of the marquee event.

The Gaddafi Stadium and the hotel where the teams are staying are being heavily guarded. A box security is provided when teams move from venue to hotel and from hotels to venue.

According to official figures, 20,000 security personnels will be delivering their services in Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi which will be hosting 23 matches during the month-long showpiece.

On paper all teams look balanced and the teams which take early momentum will prevail in the league stage.

Defending champions Lahore Qalandars will miss their key leggie Rashid Khan of Afghanistan who will be missing the league due to fitness issues as he has undergone a lower back surgery.

But the team management is confident that it has a few good spinners who will not let them feel Rashid’s absence much.

Quetta Gladiators have made two major changes in team management this year. They have brought in Shane Watson as head coach in place of Moin Khan who has been elevated to the post of team director. South Africa’s Rilee Rossouw has replaced Sarfaraz Ahmed as skipper.

Replacing Sarfaraz is a bit of an unwanted move as he has a lot of experience as a skipper. Sarfaraz was removed just after he attended the trophy unveiling ceremony at the Polo Ground, Lahore.

According to sources close to Sarfaraz, he has not resigned but he has been forced to do so.

Now it is interesting how Rilee and Watson handle Quetta Gladiators whose performance in the last three seasons was not good.

It is expected that they will bring an aggressive approach which they used to miss mostly in the past.

One hopes Nadeem Omar’s brigade will prove their mettle this season.

Karachi Kings also have a few changes in their management. West Indies all-rounder Phil Simmons has taken charge as head coach and it will be interesting to see how he handles the side which last year won just three matches under the South African coach Johan Botha.

England’s first-class cricketer Steve Kirby will be acting as Kings bowling coach for the season.

Peshawar Zalmi’s Director Cricket Mohammad Akram is also optimistic that his team will deliver in the PSL 9. Talking to reporters at the LCCA Ground, the former Test pacer said that their team is a nice blend of youth and experience and they hope the charges under skipper Babar Azam will do well in the league.

Zalmi have also engaged former Test cricketers Mohammad Yousuf and Umar Gul to work with the youngsters in the side.

Shadab Khan will have to lead Islamabad United from the front. The former two-time champions also carry Shah brothers — Naseem, Ubaid and Hunain. It will be interesting to see how they perform.

Shadab has said that they have gathered champion players and hopefully they will play like champions.

United have also drafted Haider Ali in the replacement draft. He was left unpicked in the draft initially.

Alex Hales, Azam Khan, Colin Munro and Imad Wasim are some of the prominent players in the United squad.

Multan Sultans are also set to impress in the event with their skipper Mohammad Rizwan looking optimistic about his team’s fine run in the six-team event.

Babar Azam leads the PSL batting chart with 2935 runs which he has scored in 79 matches. His feat includes one century and record 28 fifties.

Fakhar Zaman of Lahore Qalandars follows him with 2368 runs which the left-hander has scored in 76 matches. Shoaib Malik trails third with 2082 and Mohammad Rizwan follows him with 1996 runs in 71 matches.

Wahab Riaz, now chief selector, leads the bowling chart with 111 wickets which he took in 88 matches, which is the highest number of matches played by a player in the event so far.

Hasan Ali (94 wickets), Shaheen Afridi (89), Shadab Khan (77), Faheem Ashraf (72), Mohammad Nawaz (70) and Haris Rauf (64) are the leading bowlers in the PSL so far.

The PSL is a major brand and some people describe it as one of the toughest leagues in the world.

Quetta Gladiators owner Nadeem Omar said on Thursday that it is the toughest league of the world due to its highly competitive fast bowling and mystery spinners which demand high skills from batsmen.

The newly-elected PCB chairman Mohsin Naqvi the other day vowed that he would transform the PSL into a major brand.

One hopes PSL 9 will be highly successful.



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