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Kings or Qalandars: Which PSL 2017 team is the strongest?
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Foreign players: Brendon McCullum, Sunil Narine, Jason Roy, James Franklin, Cameron Delport, Grant Elliot, Chris Green
Key Pakistani players: Azhar Ali, Umar Akmal, Sohail Tanvir, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Rizwan
Lahore made headlines by signing up former Kiwi captain Brendon McCullum. The Big Mac, as he is popularly known, has been appointed as Lahore’s captain and mentor for this season.
Getting the leaders right
One of the main reasons why the Qalandars failed to make it big last year was weak leadership. Azhar Ali is hardly at home as a T20 player, let alone being a captain. With the leadership sorted, the Qalandars have also made some exciting changes to their squad to sort their other problem from last year: bowling. Their Director Cricket, Aqib Javed, looked like the right person to get the bowlers to deliver.
The trade with Karachi Kings gave them Sohail Tanvir in return for Chris Gayle. Tanvir who is a bit of a T20 globetrotter has bolstered the bowling stocks of the Qalandars. Aqib Javed had a role to play in bringing Tanvir in to the Pakistan team back in 2007 and it looks like the bond is still strong.
He is joined by the spin duo of Sunil Narine and Yasir Shah, both looking set to make their PSL debuts. The Qalandars have also drafted in young Aussie off-spinner Chris Green who came in as a replacement for Shaun Tait. Green plays for the Sydney Thunder in the Australian Big Bash League (BBL) where Paddy Upton, who also happens to be Lahore’s coach, coaches him. The fourth spinner is Usman Qadir, son of Abdul Qadir.
The foreign player quota is completed by Kiwi all-rounders James Franklin and Grant Elliott, explosive England opener Jason Roy, and last year’s star find Cameron Delport.
On the batting front, Qalandars will again be looking at Umar Akmal to lead the local batting talent. Akmal was last year’s highest-run scorer of the tournament with 335 runs at a phenomenal strike rate of 157. Fakhar Zaman, a left-handed top order batsman is another exciting modern-day prospect. Azhar Ali has been given another T20 lifeline and this might be the only decision that affects their combination. Remember; they traded Sohaib Maqsood with Peshawar Zalmi who could add value at number 6.
Ones to watch out for
Two young players to watch out from the Qalandars squad are Saif Badar and Ghulam Mudassir. Saif represented Pakistan U-19 in the 2016 World Cup where he was the team’s second-highest run-scorer. Ghulam Mudassir, a left-arm pacer from Karachi has impressed many people with his pace at such a young age. He also toured with Pakistan A and he will look to develop himself as a bowler under the watchful eyes of Aqib Javed.
Except for Jason Roy, who is likely to leave around the Feb 20 for national duty, the Qalandars will have a settled team throughout.
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