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February 19, 2020

PSL coaches identify their key players

Sports

February 19, 2020

KARACHI: With only two days to go before the start of HBL PSL 2020, the six teams’ preparations are in full swing with an eye on the glittering trophy.

The first two matches of the season will be played at the National Stadium Karachi followed by the first match in Lahore. Defending champions Quetta Gladiators, losing finalists Peshawar Zalmi, two-time champions Islamabad United and Karachi Kings are training in Karachi. Lahore Qalandars and Multan Sultans are practising in Lahore.

The coaches of the six teams are busy working out team combinations and strategies. Holders Quetta Gladiators head coach Moin Khan considers fast bowlers Mohammad Hasnain and Naseem Shah his trump cards along with young batsman Azam Khan.

“While it is very difficult to identify three players out of our squad since all players are capable, I would say Hasnain, Naseem and Azam have the potential to turn a game on its head,” Moin said.

“Hasnain and Naseem have both tasted success at international level. Their pace will be vital to our plans and they can rattle the oppositions,” the former Test stumper said. “Azam is also a talented player. He is a big-hitter. The way he is practising and working hard, he can make a big impact when he gets the opportunity,” he added.

Peshawar Zalmi’s coach Mohammad Akram says Kamran Akmal and Wahab Riaz are proven match-winners. “England’s Tom Banton is also a very exciting pick for us given his recent performances in the T20 circuit around the world,” said Akram, who has been part of Zalmi’s management since the start of the HBL PSL. “Our youngsters Mohammad Mohsin and Haider Ali also have great potential,” he added.

Karachi Kings’ coach Dean Jones has pinned hopes on four local players for a big impact in this year’s HBL PSL. These are Awais Zia, Arshad Iqbal, Omar Khan and Usama Mir. “Awais is a very exciting batsman with a good technique. His batting will be crucial for us,” said Jones, who previously coached Islamabad United to two titles. “I am also very impressed by Arshad, Omar and Usama who are all capable bowlers,” he added.

Multan Sultans coach Andy Flower is working in the PSL for the second time. He worked with Peshawar Zalmi in the inaugural HBL PSL season 2016. Flower thinks Rohail Nazir and Mohammad Ilyas are two young potential match winners in the squad. “Rohail batted very well in the ICC Under-19 World Cup semi-final against India. He would learn a great deal by playing the PSL, especially with foreign stars in the tournament. Ilyas has a lot of potential. He has all the attributes of fast bowling. He can bowl a very good yorker, out-swing and slower one,” Flower said.

Lahore Qalandars’ Aaqib Javed has full confidence in the abilities of the squad that Qalandars have assembled for HBL PSL 2020. “Other than Mohammad Hafeez, Fakhar Zaman and Chris Lynn, players like Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf are our match winners. We have a great combination,” Aqib said. “Both Haris and Shaheen have the experience of Pakistani pitches. I am sure they will bring it in use,” he added.

Islamabad United’s coach Misbah-ul-Haq says they have a a balanced squad full of exciting talent. “In Luke Ronchi and Asif Ali we have two players who can play match-winning innings for us,” said Misbah, who led United to the title in the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2016 and was also part of the squad when they won the title for the second time in 2018.

“Colin Ingram, Colin Munro and Dale Steyn will represent the franchise for the first time. We all know their cricketing abilities and world-class stature,” Misbah said. “Steyn’s presence especially will help the fast bowlers in our squad.”