Islamabad United's cricketers celebrate the dismissal of Multan Sultans' Zeeshan Ashraf during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) T20 cricket match between Islamabad United and Multan Sultans at the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore on February 22, 2020. (Photo by Arif ALI / AFP) (Photo by ARIF ALI/AFP via Getty Images)

The most successful side in the history of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) has assembled a very strong contingent for this edition of the PSL. After finishing last on the table in the fifth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), they meant business from the word go by picking up Hasan Ali as a wild card in the platinum category.

Last season, United’s main area of concern was their bowling as they lost many games even after scoring in excess of 180. They were not able to pick up wickets in the power play. They have brought in Hasan Ali to address that. Fawad Ahmed has also joined in the supplementary category to bolster the spin attack.

They have retained most of their batsmen from last year. Alex Hales makes a comeback in the United dugout after spending two years with Karachi Kings. Captain Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Hussain Talat and Zafar Gohar are all seasoned campaigners and will give Islamabad United the much-needed depth with both bat and ball.

They will miss the services of Dawid Malan, the number one T20I batsmen in the world and Colin Munro but they still have enough fire power in the batting department to make up for it.

United have been stripped of batting talent during the off-season and are without four of their five highest run-scorers from last term, including Dawid Malan and Colin Munro, the latter of whom is unavailable due to travel complications.

While the arrival of Hales is a welcome one, a full season out of Phil Salt and more contributions from Talat and Asif Ali will be needed to cope with the deficit.

Key Players

Alex Hales

Overlooked by his country yet embraced around the world: Arguably, there is no country in which the Nottinghamshire batsman is cherished more than Pakistan, where he returns for his fourth campaign.

He enjoyed a stellar season during the fifth edition but was inexplicably traded by champions Karachi Kings, in one of the more curious off-season decisions, and is back for a second spell with United.

Hales is back in the PSL with his reputation further enhanced by finishing as the BBL’s top run-scorer and there is a feeling that at just 32 he is entering his peak years as an explosive opening batsman.

Hassan Ali

The right arm pace bowler has made a terrific comeback after being out of the team for 18 months. He was prolific against South Africa in Tests and T20’s with both bat and ball. In addition to this, the energy he brings to the team will surely help the United to forget a miserable season last year.

Mohammad Wasim

Very soon I will make my place in the Pakistan international team.” Granted, laying out ambitions to represent your country at senior level is hardly surprising, but this is a teenager whose confidence lines up with his potential.

The 19-year-old is developing into the kind of cricketer you book afternoons off to watch. An allrounder adept in all three formats, Wasim bowls at approaching 85mph and whacks it a long way.

There have been enough eye-catching displays to suggest he is worth keeping an eye on, not least a 20-ball 55 for Pakistan Under-19s and 5 for 12 against Scotland at last year’s World Cup after replacing Naseem Shah in the squad.

Coach at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Abdul Razzaq, labelled him the quickest bowler in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and has pledged to “do whatever I can to turn him into a very good bowler”. The results will be fascinating.

Squad

Alex Hales, Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Hussain Talat, Musa Khan, Shadab Khan, Zafar Gohar, Hassan Ali, Lewis Gregory, Phil Salt, Rohail Nazir, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Ahmed Saifi Abdullah, Paul Stirling, Ali Khan, Fawad Ahmed, Zeeshan Zameer.

The author is a feature writer at The Correspondent. He mainly lives in the shadows as a ghost writer so you may have read his work and not even known it. He can be reached at asadqasim@thecorrespondent.pk

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here