United will try to take a winning start against Kings: Azhar Mahmood

By our correspondent

KARACHI: Following a narrow two-run loss to Peshawar Zalmi, Karachi Kings now will be desperately looking to notch their maiden win when they face former two-time champions Islamabad United in their second-round clash of the HBL PSL here at the National Stadium on Thursday (today).

Kings fell just short of the target despite a record 131-run fifth wicket partnership between skipper Imad Wasim (80*) and Shoaib Malik (53). Khurram Shehzad strongly defended 16 runs in the final over to snatch a fine win for the 2017 champions Zalmi.

“We will try to take a winning start against Karachi Kings,” Azhar Mahmood told a news conference.

“We are fully prepared and Karachi Kings have lost their first game and would be under pressure little bit,” Azhar said.

“Karachi played well and the way Malik and Imad latter on batted and the credit goes to them as after losing four early wickets they took their team near the target which was a big one and that show the quality of the players,” Azhar said.

“When you plan against the oppositions you plan for that and you know about your opponents bowling and batting strength. Our team is a data-driven and we know what are their strength and weakness. And when we talk about the match-ups that which bowler will be helpful against them and we will put them in,” the coach said.

“Yes more catches dropped and under light it becomes a bit difficult. I don’t know how much dew had fallen last night but dew factor may also come and so catches become a bit difficult. In batting and bowling luck always plays a role but fielding is all about the attitude , how you remained focused in crucial time and how you utilized your skills level. We are focusing on this area and want our fielding to appear prominent in this tournament because a crucial catch and a crucial run-out can change the game,”

“Our preparation is good as most of the players have been playing consistent cricket. If you look at foreigners and even our local players who were involved in different leagues. They all are ready and are waiting for game against Karacvhi,” Azhar added.

“Paul Stirling, Colin Munro, Rassie, Tom Curran and Gus Atkinson are available for tomorrow’s match,” he said.

“It will be easy for us to form playing XI this season. Our skipper, Hassan Cheema, Rehan and there was my thought process which player we should take. If we play at different venues so which bowler will be able to prove better for the team. We have taken into consideration all these things. Cricket is played in the ground and not on paper. We have to play well to win this tournament,” he said.

“In 2016 I was part of this team when we had become champions. I will try to make this team champions again. In the past United emerged as champions when I was part of its playing XI and now it would be a proud moment for me this team reclaims its title in my coaching,” Azhar said.

“We selected him because of his performance in the ILT and it does not mean that I am coach of Surrey and that is why we have picked him. The players come here because of their stats and potential,” said Azhar when asked about the inclusion of Gus Atkinson of Surrey County who although played in ITL but his last official game he played was way back in early July 2022 against Yorkshire.

Azhar said that spin will play a big role.

“Spin will play a massive role. Our skipper is one of the best leg-spinners in the world. If you talk about the spin so we have all kinds of varieties including left-arm spinner, we have finger spinner in Abrar and the way he has played test matches and we will see which player we have to play against which opposition. Our spin department covers so many things,” he said.

He defended Shadab’s captaincy for United.

“I will disagree with your question that Shadab has not been a good captain. I think Shadab is always one step ahead in matches which we have played so far. Last year we played 26 players. Our main strength was not in the park and if still if you go to the playoffs it shows your team is doing well and your captain is right. Shadab is very talented and he knows cricket and he can be a very good captain,” he said.



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