From our correspondent
KARACHI: With only two days to go to the start of the HBL PSL 2020, the six teams have their preparations in full swing with an eye on the glittering HBL PSL 2020 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 based in Karachi. Lahore Qalandars and Multan Sultans are practicing in Lahore.
The coaches of the six teams are busy working out team combinations and strategy ahead of the start of the tournament. Each of them have picked performers who can make a big impact for their side in the tournament.
Holders Quetta Gladiators head coach Moin Khan has identified fast bowlers Mohammad Hasnain and Naseem Shah as 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 practicing and working hard on the gam, he can make a big impact when he gets the opportunity to play.”
Meanwhile Peshawar Zalmi’s coach Mohammad Akram is also a part of the Zalmi’s management since the start of the HBL PSL. Akram’s strategy and planning have remained vital to Zalmi’s success. Akram has identified several players who he thinks hold the key to Zalmi’s shot at the title.
“Kamran Akmal and Wahab Riaz have been retained due to their outstanding record for Zalmi. They are our 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,” Akram said.
“Our youngsters Mohammad Mohsin and Haider Ali are also a part of the squad and have great potential.”
Karachi Kings’ coach Dean Jones who is in his first year with his new side after having previously coached Islamabad United to two titles has pinned hopes on four local players for a big impact in this year’s HBL PSL. These included 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. I am also very impressed by Arshad, Omar and Usama who all are capable bowlers.”
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. I have full trust in his abilities,” Flower said.
Lahore Qalandars’ Aaqib Javed feels his team’s selection after the draft was criticised due to their reliance on younger players. Aaqib, though, 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.”
Islamabad United’s coach Misbah-ul-Haq has full trust in his squad. The seasoned campaigner who led United to the title in the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2016 knows the United squad inside out after also having been a part of the squad when it won the title for the second time in 2018.
“We have won two titles in the past. we have 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. Meanwhile, 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 hence he will be an extremely valuable member of the squad for us.”
From our correspondent