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Karachi Kings eye maiden PSL title

Franchise qualified for the play-offs stage in first three editions

PHOTO COURTESY: Twitter/@PSL

Karachi Kings have always had the backing of an impassioned Karachiite fan base but their performances in the first three editions of Pakistan Super League (PSL) have left a lot to desire.

They have lost 17 matches out of a total of 30 over the course of first three seasons and have only registered a win on 12 of those occasions.

Despite qualifying for the play-offs stage in the first three seasons, the Kings have never looked in contention to lift the title. At times their progress was restricted by poor squad selection, especially during the first and second edition, while injuries to key players — Imad Wasim and Shahid Afridi — reduced their probability of success in the third edition.

But one thing which would keep their fans realistically optimistic about their chances is the consistent improvement in their performance over the first three seasons.  They finished fourth on the table in the first edition followed by a move up to the third and second spot, in the next couple of seasons respectively.

Strengths

The batting department of the Kings is probably the strongest aspect of their squad.

Pakistan’s Babar Azam and New Zealand’s Colin Munro form a formidable opening pairing for the Kings while their middle-order is beefed up by another in-form player in the shape of South Africa’s Colin Ingram.

Azam’s presence at the top of the order will play a key role in setting the tone for their batting display. If he keeps up with his rich vein of form, Kings will have little to worry about in the batting department.

Azam’s opening partner, Munro has a career strike-rate of 161.82, which is highest for any batsman with at least, 1,000 runs in T20Is. The Kiwi’s ability to hit sixes at will can pose a lot of problems for the team’s opponents, especially in the powerplay overs.

Ingram has also been in good form with the bat, heading into the fourth edition of PSL. He is currently representing the Adelaide Strikers during the ongoing Big Bash League in Australia and has scored 333 runs in 13 matches at a healthy strike-rate of 138.75.

The Kings also have the likes of England’s Ravid Bopara and Pakistan’s Imad Wasim to provide finishing touches at the backend of their innings, due to their ability to score runs at brisk pace lower down the order.

Weakness

Kings might possess some good names in their pace bowling department but the lack of consistency in their bowlers’ performances will be a worrying sign for the franchise. 

Amir made a comeback in the Pakistan side during the recently concluded tour of South Africa but his performances were not up to the mark. He seemed off-colour with the ball and had little to show for in terms of victims in the wickets column, in all three formats.

Fellow left-arm pacer Usman Khan Shinwari has fared better than Amir, in the international arena, during the recent past but his tendency to blow hot and cold at times can have a negative impact on the team’s performance. Despite picking up 16 wickets in the previous edition, Shinwari conceded runs at more than eight-runs-per-over.

Right-arm pacer Sohail Khan was the highest wicket-taker in the second season of PSL but he has quickly fallen off the radar since then. He last played an international match for Pakistan in September, 2017 and has had little impact in domestic circuit, over the past year or so.

Player to watch out for

Pakistan’s Babar Azam’s has a lot of admirers in international cricket and for good reason. The right-handed batsman has piled loads of runs, over the past 18 months for Pakistan, and he would be keen to replicate the same sort of form while donning Karachi’s colours.  

Over the past 12 months, Azam has 10 scores of over 40 or more in T20Is, which speaks volumes about his consistency.  The right-handed batsman also became the quickest to 1,000 runs in T20Is — a record which was previously held by India’s Virat Kohli. 

Azam’s batting is going to be of pivotal importance to Karachi’s chances of going deep in the tournament.

Captaincy

The Kings will be led by Pakistan all-rounder Imad Wasim, just like he did in the third edition before injury ruled him out of the tournament.

Wasim did reasonably well as captain during the third edition and the Kings would be expecting something similar in the next edition as well. His captaincy will play a key role in bringing the most out of the squad at his disposal.

Perhaps a good omen for the franchise is that Wasim is heading into the tournament on the back of some good performances for the national side, which is going to add to his confidence as the captain of the franchise.

The Kings may not possess a title-winning squad but the manner in which Wasim leads the side can turn the odds in their favour.

Squad

 Overseas: Colin Munro (New Zealand), Colin Ingram (South Africa), Ravi Bopara (England), Sikandar Raza (Zimbabwe), Aaron Summers (Australia), Ben Dunk (Australia) and Liam Livingstone (England).

Local: Mohammad Amir, Babar Azam, Imad Wasim, Usman Shinwari, Mohammad Rizwan, Awais Zia, Usama Mir, Sohail Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Ali Imran, Abrar Ahmed, Aamer Yamin, Jaahid Ali and Umer Khan.