Lahore Qalandars skipper Brendon McCullum tells Umar Akmal to learn from brother Kamran

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McCullum has pointed Kamran as an example to follow for Umar.

Lahore Qalandars skipper Brendon McCullum has asked much derided batsman Umar Akmal to take a leaf out of his older brother Kamran‘s book to improve his performances.

Umar has had a forgettable campaign in the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL) for McCullum’s side, scoring only 57 runs in five innings before being dropped from the line-up.

On Friday, Kamran Akmal scored the first century of the 2018 edition of the PSL to power Peshawar Zalmi to a seven-wicket over the Lahore Qalandars.

The senior Akmal made 107 off just 61 deliveries and McCullum has advised Umar to follow his brother’s blueprint.

“Based on his point of view, he has a lot of years in front of him, he can finish his career really strong. Today, he got a great blueprint of what he should do from his brother and I am sure he sat back and thought he could be in a situation like this in the future. But he has to make sure that he is performing to get those opportunities,” the former New Zealand skipper said.

27-year-old Umar was at one point poised to have a bright future with the Pakistan national team when he made his debut in 2009. However, inconsistent performances and a lack of application has seen the right-handed batsman fall out of favour.

His last outing in Pakistan colours came in January last year in an ODI against Australia where he had registered a 40-ball 46.

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England pacer Tymal Mills joins compatriot Jesse Lingard in 'Black Panther' club

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Karachi's England pacer Tymal Mills. Image courtesy: @thePSLt20/Twitter

England fast bowler Tymal Mills joined compatriot Jesse Lingard in the ‘Black Panther’ club after performing the ‘Wakanda Forever’ salute while playing for Karachi Kings against Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League.

Last month, Manchester United’s Lingard had celebrated the match-winning goal against Chelsea by performing the ‘Wakanda salute’ made famous by the movie’s leading character Chadwick Boseman.

In the PSL on Friday, Mills rattled the stumps of Islamabad batsman Asif Ali and celebrated by giving his rendition of the signature move.

The movie ‘Black Panther’, set in the fictional land of Wakanda in Africa, has generated a lot of buzz with performers like Will Smith and Snoop Dogg among others supporting the Marvel movie that explores tricky political issues including immigration.

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Islamabad United are clicking at the right time but Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta are not far behind in PSL

Denzil Pinto 17/03/2018
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Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators have qualified for PSL play-offs. Image courtesy: @thePSLt20/Twitter

With the league phase done and dusted, the Pakistan Super League reaches the business end of the tournament with the play-offs beginning on Sunday.

Islamabad United, Karachi Kings, Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi are the four teams vying for glory as the competition moves to Dubai and then to Lahore ahead of the finale in Karachi on March 25.

Here, we examine the four sides remaining in the third edition of the PSL.

ISLAMABAD UNITED

LEAGUE STAGE: FIRST

RECORD: Played 10, Won 7, Lost 3

WHY THEY CAN WIN: After a poor start to 2018, Dean Jones’ side are beginning to find the form that won them the 2016 edition. The Australian himself has said “it’s not how you start the tournament but how you finish it” and his players are proving that. After two losses in three games, Islamabad bounced back in style with six straight wins which saw them cement top spot. In Faheem Ashraf, they possess the top wicket-taker with 16 scalps while JP Duminy, who is set to travel to Pakistan, is in fine form with two half-centuries in four games.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN: Middle-order will have to step up. Easily lost their final league game against Karachi by seven wickets.

KARACHI KINGS

LEAGUE STAGE: SECOND

RECORD: P 10, W 5, L 4, T1

WHY THEY CAN WIN:  When a result was needed to confirm their spot in the play-offs, Karachi Kings did exactly that and that too over league leaders Islamabad. Even without Eoin Morgan, who will not travel to Pakistan should they advance after Sunday’s match, Karachi have been impressive with batsmen Joe Denly, Babar Azam and Colin Ingram stepping up. Usman Khan has taken 14 wickets and in Mickey Arthur they have a highly experienced  coach.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN: If Imad Wasim doesn’t return from his injury, it will be down to Shahid Afridi to come up with the goods in the spin department. While their pace attack looks strong, spin will be equally important. Mentality will also be key and cannot afford a slip-up like the way they threw away a winning position in their Super Over defeat to Lahore Qalandars.

PESHAWAR ZALMI

LEAGUE STAGE: THIRD

RECORD: P 10, W 5, L 5

WHY THEY CAN WIN: As defending champions, know what it takes to win. Kamran Akmal tops the run table with 347 including a ton and fifty in his last two matches. Wahab Riaz has been effective with the ball and is joint-second highest wicket-taker so far (14).

Have a full-strength squad with foreign players Darren Sammy, Liam Dawson, Andre Fletcher, Riki Wessels and Dwayne Smith all set to travel to Pakistan.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN: Have not been consistent. But can take confidence from the fact they have beaten the other three teams this year.

QUETTA GLADIATORS

LEAGUE STAGE: FOURTH

RECORD: P 10, W 5, L 5

WHY THEY CAN WIN: Have made it to the final so know what needs to be done when the pressure is on.However, will need a remarkable effort from captain Sarfraz Ahmed and bowlers Rahat Ali and Anwar Ali.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN: Will once again witness an exodus of key players. Kevin Pietersen and Jason Roy will not travel while there’s a question mark over their top-scorer Shane Watson and Rilee Rossouw.

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