KARACHI: Finally the wait is over. The HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2022 will explode into action on Thursday (today) with the defending champions Multan Sultans taking on the 2020 winners Karachi Kings here at the National Stadium.
The match starts at 7:30pm PST. Before the event a glittering brief opening ceremony will be conducted.
Kings will be led by Pakistan’s captain in all formats Babar Azam who has been appointed as skipper in place of Imad Wasim. Multan Sultans will be led by the country’s solid wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan who rocked the world last year with a record aggregate score in a calendar year.
It will be a tough game as both sides are strong on paper.
National Stadium has been a lucky ground for Kings against Multan as they have won both of their matches at the venue both sides have played so far.
Overall nine matches have been played between the two sides, with Kings winning five while Multan Sultans pocketing victories in two games. One match did not yield any result while one was abandoned.
Multan Sultans will definitely be looking to have a fine start to their title defence. However, they will be missing the experience of Shahid Afridi and Sohail Tanvir, both now with Quetta Gladiators. Besides them, they also will be missing leggie Usman Qadir and it means that South African leggie Imran Tahir will be their key bowler in spin department.
Besides captain Mohammad Rizwan they have some fine T20 batsmen who can plunder runs at any stage. Hard-hitting Tim David, Sohaib Maqsood, Rilee Rossouw and Khushdil Shah can take the game away from any side at any time.
Shahnawaz Dahani will as usual be looking to put in his best. The best thing seen in him recently has been his economical bowling and particularly in the last game against the West Indies in which he was utilised recently at home Dahani was fantastic with the leather.
Multan Sultans also have a fine all-round pool and are expected to have a nice beginning to the event whose 15 matches will be held at Karachi while the remaining 19 matches will be conducted at Lahore.
Kings have around six specialist batsmen, besides having utility all-rounders.
Their skipper Babar Azam showed satisfaction over the combination of his side during a news conference the other day.
Babar himself will be the key as usual. And it will be around him the whole batting line up will revolve. Sharjeel Khan will be looking to impress the selectors both with his form and fitness. He batted against his nature in a practice game against Islamabad United on Tuesday here at the National Stadium scoring 46 off 41 balls. However he is a real entertainer and his pair with Babar will help Kings give decent starts in the PSL.
Joe Clarke, Tom Lammonby and Imad Wasim and Mohammad Nabi are the other hard-hitting batsmen.
Mohammad Amir will as usual lead Kings bowling pack which also contains Umaid Asif, Aamir Yamin, Mohammad Ilyas and spinner Nabi. They make Kings a tough side to beat, especially at their own backyard.
“We have all the potential to defend our HBL PSL title and we will be taking the field tomorrow with that mindset. This season will present us with new challenges and we will have to plan accordingly,” Multan Sultans skipper Mohammad Rizwan said.
“Babar Azam is a wonderful batter and captain, and his leadership will certainly have a good impact on Karachi Kings. I am hopeful that the HBL PSL 7 will kick off with a great contest between the two sides,” Rizwan said.
Karachi Kings captain Babar Azam said that it would be a tough contest against Multan. “I am very excited to be leading Karachi Kings this season. This is the first instance that I will be captaining a side in the HBL PSL and I am looking forward to it,” Babar said.
“The first match of the tournament always has a lot of eyeballs and Multan Sultans can prove to be a tough opposition. I am sure the fans will get to see a thrilling contest,” he said.
“Peter Moores is a seasoned coach and I have had fruitful discussions with him. Karachi Kings will display good, competitive cricket this season,” added Babar.
The NCOC has allowed only 25 percent crowd to witness the game due to rising Covid cases in Karachi.
After the league engagement on double league basis the top four outfits will make it to the playoffs.
Of the six competing sides, five have won the PSL so far in six editions. Islamabad United won in 2016 and 2018, Peshawar Zalmi in 2017, Quetta Gladiators in 2019, Karachi Kings in 2020 and Multan Sultans in 2021.
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