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Quetta Gladiators look to claim maiden PSL title

Sarfaraz-led unit are the third most successful team in the tournament’s history

PHOTO COURTESY: Twitter/@PSL

Quetta Gladiators are arguably the most consistent team in Pakistan Super League (PSL) history but the title is something which has eluded them, over the course of first three seasons. 

The Gladiators are the third most successful team of the tournament, only behind Peshawar Zalmi (57.57) and Islamabad United (59.37), but are considered as the underdogs from the day they began their PSL journey.

Mentored by the great Sir Vivian Richards and led by Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, the Gladiators have become a force to reckon with; overcoming many obstacles and producing some memorable performances.

The Gladiators have twice got close to lifting the silverware, but they lost the finals to Islamabad United in 2016 and to Zalmi in 2017. In the first Eliminator of the 2018 event in Lahore, chasing 25 runs from the last over against Zalmi, the Gladiators fell agonisingly short of the target by just two runs.

Strengths

With addition of off-spinner Sunil Narine, pacer Sohail Tanvir and all-rounder Dwayne Bravo in their squad, the Gladiators look stronger than ever.

Bravo is the most successful bowler in the shortest format of the game with 471 wickets in T20 cricket while Narine, with his clever off-spin bowling, is capable of winning the game on his own. They also have the experience of Australia all-rounder Shane Watson to count on.  

As far as local talent is concerned, the Gladiators are equipped with the likes of middle-order batsman Umar Akmal and opener Ahmed Shehzad. With 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup just a few months away, the duo would be aiming to utilise this platform in order to come in reckoning for the mega event.   

Sarfaraz Ahmed’s leadership has played a major role in team’s success, over the first three seasons, and it will be of pivotal importance in the fourth edition as well.

Weakness

Despite having a pretty solid group of players, the Gladiators contingent lacks squad depth; something which could hamper their progress in the tournament. 

If any of the above mentioned players does not perform in accordance with expectations, the Gladiators would not have many options available but to opt for rookie players as a replacement.   

The side also has lacks in terms of experience and consistency in their middle-order, which is why a lot will depend on how South Africa’s Rilee Rossouw performs as he will be the glue that keeps the batting department from falling apart.

Captaincy

Most of the spotlight will be on captain Sarfaraz but not only because he would be leading the side. The 31-year-old will be returning to action for the first time since the four-match suspension by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for breaching racism code of conduct, during Pakistan tour of South Africa.  

Sarfaraz remains a key figure behind the team’s success because the way he has marshalled the troops, in the past, has proven to be the difference between victory and defeat.

He will also be eager to make his first PSL appearance in Karachi. It is a dream of every cricketer to perform in his hometown and this PSL will be the perfect opportunity for Sarfaraz to perform in the city where he grew up playing cricket.

Player to watch out for

The Windies off-spinner Sunil Narine was roped in as part of a trade with Lahore Qalandars by the Gladiators. His inclusion in the squad could improve team’s chances of success significantly, bearing in mind his performances in the previous seasons of PSL.

Narine is the most economical bowler in PSL history and his ability to tie down batsmen with his bowling, both at the start and backend of the innings, holds great value for a fielding captain.

Apart from his bowling, he can also bat flamboyantly as an opener — an aspect of his game that has improved greatly over the past couple of years — and provides an option for the franchise to send him at the top of the order.  

Squad

Overseas: Sunil Narine (West Indies), Dwayne Bravo (West Indies), Shane Watson (Australia), Rilee Rossouw (South Africa), Fawad Ahmed (Australia) and Harry Gurney (England)

Local: Sarfaraz Ahmed, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Nawaz, Umar Akmal, Anwar Ali, Saud Shakeel, M Asghar, Danish Aziz, Ahsan Ali, Ghulam Muddassir, Ahmed Shehzad, Azam Khan, Jalat Khan, Mohammad Irfan Jr and Mohammad Hasnain.