Kings vs Qalandars: A rivalry with millions of followers

Karachi and Lahore are the two biggest cities of the country

Kings vs Qalandars: A rivalry with millions of followers PHOTO: PCB

The Habib Bank Limited (HBL) Pakistan Super League (PSL) has become synonymous with quality cricket and the six league franchises are supported by passionate fans who give it their all to cheer their respective teams.

Over the course of the four HBL PSL editions, the contests between Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars have attracted large crowds in the stadiums and massive viewership on TVs and fans look ahead to them with bated breath.

Karachi and Lahore are the two biggest cities of the country and are also known the world over as the traditional nurseries of Pakistan cricket.

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After independence a vast majority of Pakistan’s cricket greats the likes of Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Majid Khan, Zaheer Abbas, Saeed Anwar, Abdul Qadir, Wasim Akram, Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Moin Khan and Rashid Latif to name a few, learned their craft in their early teens on the streets of Karachi or the vast grounds of Lahore.

Even the present day stars like Sarfaraz Ahmed, Babar Azam and Shan Masood had their first introduction to cricket in these nurseries.

The two teams have so far failed in their quest for silverware as both have failed to make it to the finals. Lahore Qalandars, however, have never made it to the play-offs.

But with both teams set to play in front of their impassioned fans at the National Stadium Karachi and Qaddafi Stadium Lahore, respectively, in this season, their performances are expected to surge to a new level.

The two group-stage games will be played within five days and with the tickets already in high demand. These matches are expected to be played in front of jam-packed stadiums with vociferous support.

On what will be a Super Sunday, Lahore Qalandars will host Karachi Kings in a night game on March 8 at Pakistan’s home of cricket Gaddafi Stadium.

On March 12, Karachi Kings will take the hosting responsibilities as the iconic National Stadium will stage the much-anticipated contest.

Past results (Played eight; Kings have won five, Qalandars have won two, one game tied):

Kings have so far enjoyed an upper-hand on Qalandars. They won both their encounters in the inaugural 2016 HBL PSL edition by seven wickets and 27 runs at the Dubai International Stadium and Sharjah Cricket Ground respectively.

In the 2017 edition, Qalandars recorded their first-ever win over Kings when they beat them by seven runs in a thriller played at Sharjah. Kings, however, extracted revenge by recording a last-ball win courtesy a six by West Indian Kieron Pollard off Aamer Yamin when the two teams clashed at the Dubai International Stadium in their second match of the season.

Kings were once again at the victorious end when they recorded a 27-run win at the Dubai International Stadium in the first match between the two sides of the HBL PSL 2018 edition.

The two sides played a spellbinding thriller in front of a packed Dubai International Stadium (the second match between the two teams of the 2018 season) which was won by the Qalandars, courtesy a sensational Super Over by Sunil Narine.

The match had ended in a tie following a dramatic last ball by Usman Shinwari which was declared a no-ball for overstepping with Qalandars needing three runs for a win.

Qalandars recorded a 22-run win in the first match of the HBL PSL 2019 season played at the Dubai International Stadium.

Kings then settled scores for the season with a five-wicket win when the two sides clashed once again in Dubai.

Major players in the two squads for HBL PSL 2020 season:

Kings have assembled an explosive batting line-up for HBL PSL 2020 season with the ICC top-ranked batsman Babar Azam set to lead the batting charge along with England’s Alex Hales, South African Cameron Delport and Sharjeel Khan.

Babar, Hales, Sharjeel and Delport provide arguably the most explosive top-order in the season, if they come off, Kings would look to post 200-run totals in the season.

Delport smashed a scintillating 117 off 60 balls against Qalandars last season while representing United at the National Stadium, and would look to repeat the dose at his new franchise’s home turf.

The Kings top-order though would be challenged by Qalandars’ pacy left-armers Shaheen Shah Afridi and Shinwari, who has moved to the Lahore side for this season. Pakistan’s new pace sensation Haris Rauf would also aim to mark his presence against the Kings top-order especially his T20I captain Babar.

On the other hand, Qalandars batsmen Chris Lynn, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Salman Butt, and Ben Dunk are likely to be tested by Kings formidable bowling attack led by Mohammad Amir.

The left-armer will have England’s right-arm-pacer Chris Jordan and New Zealand’s left-armer Mitchell McClenaghan for company backed by the experienced Umaid Asif.

Left-arm-spinners Imad Wasim and the last season wonder kid Umar Khan provide further depth to the Kings bowling line-up which will aim to keep the Qalandars batsmen in check on the batting friendly tracks of Gaddafi Stadium and National Stadium.

Despite their less than satisfactory results in the first four seasons and the lack of silverware, both Kings and Qalandars have a huge fan base and some die-hard fans who would undoubtedly spur the two sides to greater things especially on their home turfs.

When following the HBL PSL, Kings v Qalandars rivalry is one that no cricket fan can afford to miss.