Sunday April 21, 2024

Sultans aim for a sturdy start as Kings seek redemption

By Asher Butt
February 18, 2024

MULTAN: The excitement of the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2024 after its opening ceremony and first encounter at Lahore, now simultaneously moves to the city of saints, as Multan Sultans prepare to face Karachi Kings in the third match of the season. 

Multan Sultans Spinner Usama Mir celebrates after taking a wicket against Karachi Kings on February 22, 2023.— X/@thePSLt20
Multan Sultans Spinner Usama Mir celebrates after taking a wicket against Karachi Kings on February 22, 2023.— X/@thePSLt20

The day-night encounter is scheduled to take place at the Multan Cricket Stadium on February 18 (today).

In their previous encounters, both teams have faced each other 11 times, with Karachi Kings holding a slight edge with six victories, while Multan Sultans secured five wins.

Multan have been a consistent force in recent PSL seasons, reaching the finals in each of the last three editions. Led by wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan, the team boasts local talents like Yasir Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, and Khushdil Shah. International batsmen Dawid Malan and Reeza Hendricks add strength to the squad.

However, Multan face challenges in the absence of key seamers Ihsanullah and Reece Topley, who withdrew from the tournament due to injuries. Chris Jordan and Shahnawaz Dahani are expected to lead the new-ball attack, supported by spinners Usama Mir and Faisal Akram.

On the other hand, Karachi Kings aim for an improved performance after finishing in the bottom two in the last two seasons. The team strengthened its middle order with the inclusion of quality all-rounders Kieron Pollard and Daniel Sams. Experienced players like Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Nawaz provide depth.

Opening with Shan Masood and James Vince, Karachi look for quick runs during the Powerplay. The pace attack faces a setback with Jamie Overton’s withdrawal due to injuries, increasing the responsibility on Hasan Ali and Mir Hamza. The spin department, featuring Tabraiz Shamsi and Arafat Minhas, adds strength to the lineup.

The team winning the toss is likely to opt for batting first. The pitch in Multan generally supports batting with good pace and bounce. An average first-inning score of around 175 indicates favorable conditions for batsmen, but the pitch can become tricky in the second half.

Clear weather with temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius is expected in Multan. Despite the potential absence of international stars, Sultans hold a slight edge with a stronger batting line-up and home-ground advantage.

For Sultans, Mohammad Rizwan is in good form after Tests against Australia. Rizwan adds flexibility to the top order. As of Kings, Shan Masood, is a hard-hitting batter capable of taking on bowlers from the first ball. While Mohammad Amir is a fiery fast bowler. Amir showcased excellent form in the International League T20.

Runners-up in the previous edition, Mohammad Rizwan was the top run-scorer with 550 runs, and Abbas Afridi took 23 wickets. But Karachi failed to qualify for playoffs in the last edition as Imad Wasim top-scored with 404 runs, and Mohammad Amir took 10 wickets.

As Sultans aim for a strong start under home conditions, the Kings seek redemption. As it is the start of season nine, there is an expectation of a thrilling encounter.

Teams (from):

Multan Sultans: Mohammad Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed (both Platinum), Khushdil Shah, Usama Mir (both Diamond), Abbas Afridi (Gold), Ihsanullah (Brand Ambassador, Silver), Faisal Akram (Emerging), Dawid Malan, Reeze Hendricks, Reece Topley, Tayyab Tahir, Shahnawaz Dahani, Mohammad Ali, Usman Khan, Yasir Khan, Chris Jordan, Aftab Ibrahim, David Willey, Johnson Charles, Muhammad Shahzad

Karachi Kings: James Vince, Hassan Ali (Diamond), Shan Masood (Brand Ambassador), Shoaib Malik (Mentor), Tabraiz Shamsi (all Gold), Mir Hamza, Muhammad Akhlaq (both Silver), Irfan Khan (Emerging), Mohammad Nawaz, Kieron Pollard, Daniel Sams, Tim Seifert.