It won’t be wrong to name Quetta Gladiators as the most consistent franchise of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) which will kickstart its sixth edition this month.
They’re the only franchise that has not made any change in their team management. Sarfaraz Ahmed, Moin Khan, and Azam Khan have been retained as captain, coach, and manager respectively, for the sixth consecutive season.
Their performance on the field is also not so bad sans last season where they finished fifth – their worst ever performance in the tournament. They’ve played three finals in five previous editions, winning the title in 2019.
Gladiators’ performance last year was marred by back-to-back travel but that won’t be the case for them this time as matches are being held only at two venues – Karachi and Lahore.
This year, Gladiators will have the services of the “Universal Boss” Chris Gayle who is undisputed King of T20 Cricket. Gale has several T20 records to his credit which includes most runs (13,584), most centuries (22), most half-centuries (85). highest individual T20 score (175*) most sixes (1001) and most sixes in a match (18).
Although, he didn’t do well in PSL during his two previous outings – averaging just 18.78 from his 14 matches but the 41-year-old showed his class in scoring 238 runs at 41.14 for King’s XI Punjab giving Gladiators a hope that Gayle can produce some match-winning knocks for them and feeling the void created after retirement of Shane Watson.
However, he won’t be available for a full season. He will go back to West Indies to join his national team for the series against Sri Lanka and will be replaced by another T20 stalwart Faf du Plessis.
The Sarfaraz-led side also has the services of Azam Khan, son of Moin Khan, Cameron Delport, Tom Banton, and Ben Cutting to strengthen their batting lineup.
Delport, who has previously played for Karachi Kings, Islamabad United, and Lahore qalandars in the Pakistan Super League, can also be handy as a part-time seamer. He has, so far, taken 68 wickets at an average of 28.45 along with Delport, local boys Mohammad Nawaz and Anwar Ali provides Quetta enough firepower.
Quetta’s pace attack includes Pakistan’s fast bowling supplies including Mohammad Hasnain, Naseem Shah, and Usman Shinwari. They are regular features of Pakistan’s pace attack in the international cricket. They’ll have the guidance of Dale Steyn who is also picked by Gladiators as a supplementary player. The South African will join the purple force on 22nd February.
All-rounder Nawaz, along with Afghanistan’s Qais Ahmad and Dadu-based Zahid Mahmood gives Sarfaraz Ahmed some good options in a spin as well.
It looks like the Gladiators have ticked all the boxes properly for the PSL action, all they need to do is play like true Gladiators if they want to win the second PSL trophy.
Squad: Sarfaraz Ahmed, Qais Ahmad, Anwar Ali, Saim Ayub, Tom Banton, Ben Cutting, Cameron Delport, Chris Gayle, Mohammad Hasnain, Arish Ali Khan, Azam Khan, Hassan Khan, Usman Khan, Zahid Mahmood, Abdul Nasir, Mohammad Nawaz, Faf du Plessis, Naseem Shah, Usman Khan Shinwari, Dale Steyn
Fixtures: February 20- Karachi Kings, February 22 – Lahore Qalandars, February 26 – Peshawar Zalmi, March 1- Islamabad United, March 3 – Multan Sultans, March 6 – Islamabad United, March 7 – Multan Sultans, March 11 – Lahore Qalandars, March 13 – Karachi Kings, March 14 – Peshawar Zalmi