PSL 2020, Match 1 Preview: The tournament's opener is expected to be an interesting contest between defending champions Quetta Gladiators and two-time winners Islamabad United
The fifth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) is set to kick off from Thursday, February 20 at the National Stadium, Karachi.
The inaugural match will be played between defending champions Quetta Gladiators and two-time winners Islamabad United after a colourful opening ceremony of the six-team tournament.
Just hours before the opening match, the defending champions were dealt a major blow when middle-order batsman Umar Akmal was barred from all cricket-related activities by the Pakistan Cricket Board.
The 34-match extravaganza is the biggest cricket tournament to take place in Pakistan after the Asia Cup in 2008.
The Gladiators will be led by Pakistan’s former captain and wicketkeeper-batsman Safaraz Ahmed, who has been leading this side since the inception of Pakistan Super League.
However it is strange to note that against an experienced captain, a young allrounder Shadab Khan is leading the Islamabad United team for the first time. The legspinner had earlier stated that it is “an honour to lead the side”, adding that he cannot believe he went from being an emerging talent to captaining the team in the space of just three years.
Sarfaraz is not only an experienced captain on both national and domestic levels but his team is also being considered the favourite in the contest with many talented and experienced players in the side besides some international cricketers.
The Gladiators foreign players include Australian all-rounders Shane Watson and Ben Cutting, batsman Jason Roy, English fast bowler Tymal Mills and Keemo Paul of West Indies.
Among the national players, experienced batsmen Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal (to be replaced), Khurram Manzoor and Sarfaraz, and bowlers Sohail Khan, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz are expected to shine in the tournament. However, young bowling sensation Naseem Shah is out for two matches due to injury.
Islamabad United are also a strong side with a host of national and international stars. Foreign players include fast bowler Dale Steyn and batsman Colin Ingram, both from South Africa, spinner Colin Munro and wicketkeeper-batsman Luke Ronchi both from New Zealand, and batsmen Phil Salt and Dawid Malan, both from England. Among the national stars are allrounders Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf and Shadab Khan, bowlers Muhammad Musa, Rumman Raees, Hussain Talat and others.