Just few days remain for the fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) to get underway in the UAE.
The six PSL franchises will once again battle it out for the crown of Pakistan’s best.
Ahead of a mouthwatering fourth edition of the T20 carnival, we profile the Quetta Gladiators franchise who have been runners-up of PSL on two occasions.
Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Umar Akmal, Ahmed Shehzad, Shane Watson, Rilee Rossouw, Mohammad Nawaz, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Azam Khan, Saud Shakeel, Sunil Narine, Sohail Tanvir, Dwayne Bravo, Fawad Ahmed, Jalat Khan, Mohammad Asghar, Danish Aziz, Ahsan Ali, Ghulam Mudassar, Naseem Shah, Harry Gurney.
Skipper – Sarfraz Ahmed
The Pakistan skipper and wicketkeeper-batsman is once again the automatic choice to lead the team this season. Has a point to prove after serving a four match suspension for racist remarks in South Africa.
Quetta have traditionally been strong performers in the PSL and were runners-up in 2016 and 2017. Last season wasn’t a fruitful one however with the team falling at the playoff hurdle.
Coach – Moin Khan
Sarfraz can turn to another former Pakistan wicketkeeper-batsman for advice with Moin Khan taking the coaching reins. Former Pakistan all-rounder Abdul Razzaq will don the assistant coach hat while Windies legend Viv Richards is the batting mentor.
Key players – Shane Watson, Sunil Narine, Dwayne Bravo
The Quetta squad is littered with proven performers in the T20 format with the likes of Watson, Narine, Bravo and Sarfraz in the fray. They also have the services of Sohail Tanvir and Umar Akmal who have plenty of experience in UAE conditions. Watson, Narine and Bravo are all-rounders too and that should provide the side with a good balance.
The likes of Watson and Bravo are now approaching the end of their playing career and the squad is a little short on youth. The team could lag a bit on the field due to that reason. They also lack in the domestic pool in the pace department with Tanvir the only recognisable name.
Prediction – Playoffs/Final
Along with Lahore and Peshawar, Quetta are among the stronger sides in PSL 4 and should have no trouble in making the playoffs for a fourth time in a row. Getting to the final might be a little tricky though for Sarfraz and his men.
England captain Joe Root suggested West Indies bowler Shannon Gabriel said something he “might regret” during an on-field exchange in the third Test.
Root’s part of the conversation with Gabriel were apparently picked up on television via the stump microphone.
Gabriel’s part of the conversation though did not seem to be audible, but Press Association Sport understands the Trinidadian paceman was spoken to by at least one of the on-field umpires, Kumar Dharmasena and Rod Tucker, about his language.
Whether the match referee Jeff Crowe deems the incident worthy of further attention remains to be seen, while West Indies head coach Richard Pybus promised to take further action “if it was untoward”.
Root enjoyed a fine day at the crease, scoring a 16th Test century and finishing 111 not out as England built a lead of 448 runs – but after leaving the field was asked to explain the tussle with Gabriel.
Speaking in measured terms, he said: “It’s Test cricket, he’s an emotional guy trying to do everything he can to win a Test match…sometimes people say things on the field that they might regret, but they should stay on the field.
“He’s a good guy who plays hard cricket and is proud to be in the position he is. The battle was a good contest, he’s had a wonderful series and he should be proud.”
Pybus was unaware of any potential controversy at close of play but told BBC’s Test Match Special: “Nothing has been reported to me but if a comment was made we’ll review it and if it was untoward we’ll be addressing it.”
Root would probably rather reflect on his efforts with the bat, having steered his side towards their best total of a disappointing series.
Their score of 325 for four sets them up perfectly to push for a victory, ending their Test winter on a high after successive defeats and averting a 3-0 whitewash.
The England skipper had struggled with his team, scoring 55 runs in his previous five innings in this series, before hitting form at the Darren Sammy Stadium.
“It’s been a tough series for me personally and for the guys so to respond as we have today and be in this position of strength with two days left is really pleasing,” he said.
“It was a good hard scrap for most of it which was really enjoyable because sometimes when things aren’t quite happening for you you think you’re battling a little bit. To come out the other side and be able to say you’re not out at the end of the day is really pleasing.”
Root also offered a word of praise for Joe Denly, who survived a drop on 12 to post a fluent 69 in his second Test appearance.
“He played beautifully I thought,” said Root. “I thought he played with good balance, good style and grace – as you’d expect him to when he gets runs. He should have a lot of confidence with the way he played.”
The fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) is fast approaching as the clock ticks down to the season opener in the UAE.
The six PSL franchises will once again battle it out for the crown of Pakistan’s best in the T20 extravaganza spread over the course of five weeks.
Ahead of a mouthwatering edition of T20 action, we profile the defending champions Islamabad United, who have won the crown twice in their history.
Mohammad Sami (C), Luke Ronchi, Sahibzada Farhan, Asif Ali, Hussain Talat, Faheem Ashraf, Zafar Gohar, Waqas Maqsood, Rumman Raees, Shadab Khan, Ian Bell, Philip Salt, Cameron Delport, Samit Patel, Muhammad Musa, Wayne Parnell, Zahir Khan, Amad Butt, Rizwan Hussain, Nasir Nawaz.
Skipper – Mohammad Sami
The two-time champions will be led by former Pakistan international Sami, who is the second highest wicket-taker in the league’s history.
The Islamabad outfit are the most successful franchise in the tournament’s history and won the inaugural edition in 2016 before capturing their second title in 2018. They were eliminated in the playoffs in 2017 to finish fourth.
Coach – Dean Jones
The former Australia international has been at the helm of the team since the inaugural edition in 2016 and will take charge for the fourth year in a row.
Key players – Luke Ronchi (New Zealand wicket-keeper batsman), Shadab Khan (Pakistan spin all-rounder), Faheem Ashraf (Pakistan seam all-rounder)
In Shadab, Faheem, Sahibzada Farhan, Asif Ali, Hussain Talat and Rumman Raees, Islamabad have plenty of exciting Pakistan-capped youngsters in the squad who are capable to being match-winners on their day. They also have Ronchi in tow who was the highest run-getter in the 2018 edition.
While their domestic contingent is one of the strongest, the international picks leave plenty to be desired in the form of former England batsman Ian Bell, now 36, and South African duo Cameron Delport and Wayne Parnell. Finding the right balance between the domestic and international players will be key for Islamabad.
Prediction – Playoffs
It could prove to be a tough title defence for Islamabad United with plenty of other franchises strengthening massively. They should be good to make the playoffs at least from where onwards it will be anybody’s game.