Azam, Steyn duel on the cards in PSL5

South Africa pacer is among 28 international players to have registered in Platinum category to date

Azam, Steyn duel on the cards in PSL5 PHOTO: AFP

A fascinating duel between world number one Babar Azam and one of the modern day greats Dale Steyn is on the cards for the HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 as the South African speedster is among the 28 international crowd-pullers to have registered to date in the Platinum category for one of the premier and most-watched leagues on the planet. The registration window for the foreign players is still open and closes on November 21 following which an updated list will be released.

The battle between Babar and Steyn made global headlines when the Pakistan batsman struck the South African pace ace for 10 boundaries in a span of just 31 balls in the Centurion Test late last year. He then followed up with five boundaries in 29 balls in the Cape Town Test to belt Steyn for a total of 16 fours off just 66 balls.

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If the two end up in opposite camps when the player draft takes place in the first week of December, then the local and foreign fans are up for the resumption of an engrossing contest between a present day star and one of the all-time supreme fast-bowlers.

This is the first time Steyn has registered for the HBL PSL, which reflects the popularity of the competition and the brand it has become since its inception in 2016. If picked, Steyn’s next year’s visit to Pakistan will also be his first since the 2007 tour when he played Tests in Karachi and Lahore.

Steyn was excited to be part of the draft pool, when he said: “Cricket means the world to Pakistani fans and I am excited that I will get to be a part of the HBL Pakistan Super League draft pool.”

Steyn’s longtime South Africa team-mate Hashim Amla and England’s World Cup winners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid are the other international players in the preliminary list of 28 cricketers who have registered in the Platinum category for the HBL PSL 2020.

Amla also toured Pakistan in 2007 before returning in 2017 with the ICC World XI for a three-match T20I series, while for Ali and Rashid, next year’s trips will be their maiden cricket tours, if picked.

Moeen Ali said: “I am very excited that I am going to be a part of such an incredible pool of players for the HBL PSL Player Draft. On the circuit, players talk about the quality cricket that they have experienced playing in the HBL PSL and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

Apart from Ali and Rashid, Jason Roy is the other World Cup winner to have registered for HBL PSL 2020.

Photo Credits: PCB

Roy, who has previously represented Lahore Qalandars and Quetta Gladiators, said: “Pakistan cricket always offers unique and exciting stuff and this tournament is no different. They have some of the most passionate fans in the world and it is extremely heartening to experience this passion. I have had brief but memorable stints at the HBL PSL and it's great to be back in the pool.”

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Roy’s compatriot Alex Hales and West Indies’ star Kieron Pollard are familiar faces in the HBL PSL.

Alex Hales, who was picked by Islamabad United in 2018, said: “I had a great experience playing in Karachi last year and I can’t forget the love that I received from Pakistani fans. HBL PSL has grown so much in such little time and it is definitely an exciting tournament to be a part of.”

Kieron Pollard, who played for Peshawar Zalmi in the 2019 event, said: “Last year, I truly experienced what cricket means to Pakistani fans as I played in front of jam-packed crowds. It was definitely a highlight in my career and I hope that the HBL PSL festivity continues this season as well.”

Overall, the 28 players come from eight cricket-playing nations, with England boasting seven, South Africa six and the West Indies five, Afghanistan and Australia three each, Sri Lanka two and Nepal, and New Zealand one each.

While the PCB will announce additions to the list by or before 21 November, it will share to date Diamond, Gold, Silver and Emerging lists later this week.

List of international players who have registered in Platinum category to date:

Afghanistan: Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb-ur-Rehman and Rashid Khan

Australia: Dan Christian, Ben Cutting and Chris Lynn

England: Moeen Ali, Harry Gurney, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid and Jason Roy

Nepal: Sandeep Lamichhane

New Zealand: Colin Munro

South Africa: Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Colin Ingram, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir

Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera

West Indies: Carlos Brathwaite, Dwayne Bravo, Evin Lewis, Sunil Narine and Kieron Pollard.