I’d like to start off by saying that what’s done is done, and Karachi fans should not look back. The tournament has started off poorly, but they are still able to make the qualifiers, provided they make some changes. Islamabad United in season one lost their first two games yet ended up winning the tournament. I believe the Kings can achieve something similar.
I’ve already aired my thoughts on the squad, but I’ll sum them up again. I think that Karachi have purchased the best players, but also some of the worst. I personally feel that: Khurram Manzoor, Saifullah Bangash and Rahat Ali should be nowhere near the squad. The three are average T20 cricketers, and it is often said you judge a team based on their bench strength.
The teams that tend to do well in these types of tournaments are the ones that have players with similar level of ability. They generally work together, and form strong combinations. A perfect example is Quetta Gladiators. They don’t have many big names, but always seem to get the job done. If the Kings want to progress into the qualifiers, I believe they’ll have to make some changes to their team composition.
Firstly, I believe that the Kings need an attacking option during the middle overs. Abrar Ahmed the young leg-spinner has impressed me, but has failed to pick up a wicket. He looks an exciting talent, but it’s the early stages of his career, and he is yet to develop properly. I’ve analysed his bowling and I can see that when he bowls his leg-break, it is generally flatter at a quick pace. In comparison, his googly is flighted and tossed up. These are the little things the opposition picks up on. I’d bring in Usama Mir in his place. The tall leg-spinner from Sialkot impressed everyone during the inaugural edition of the tournament. He has experience, and all the wickets he took during season one were of international/overseas batsmen, which shows he doesn’t get phased bowling to top quality cricketers. He’s also one of the best fielders in Pakistan.
Whilst I can go on about the bowling, it’s ultimately the batting that has let the Karachi Kings down. In both games, the self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’, Chris Gayle has failed to get going. His opening partner Shahzeb has threatened to let loose, but hasn’t kicked on. The captain Sangakkara is having a tough time converting his starts into big ones, and Malik and co down the order are generally left with too much to do. It’s tough setting the batting order, as most bar Pollard belongs in the top order.
The current team combination to me looks fine. Although Shahzeb hasn’t really got off, I’d continue to give him a chance, largely due to his impressive form coming into the tournament. He is someone who can win you a game on his own once he gets going. I’d give him two more games to express himself. If he cannot make a contribution in those two games, Amad Alam should replace him. I’ve heard positive things about the young cricketer from the Karachi Kings camp. He’s short in stature, but packs a punch. The only issue with him is his lack of experience, but that could also work in his favour, as he’ll be an unknown entity to the opposition.
I’d keep Babar at 3, and give him the ‘anchor’ role. His job should be to bat till the 20th over, with the other batsmen playing around him. The issue is with the captain Sangakkara. The left-hander is generally a top order batsman, but cannot find room up top, and hence his performances have suffered. In the past, he’s stepped down and dropped himself from the team. He did this in the IPL a few years ago. If he did something like that here, his replacement would be Saifullah Bangash, who is a decent keeper, but has very little ability with the bat.
It’s tough really to see how the Kings can improve here. I genuinely believe that so far they have played their best XI bar Usama Mir. Whilst they’ve performed badly, a lot of it is also down to luck. They have lost the toss on both occasions and have been sent in to bat, on pitches, which suit chasing. I believe that they’ll have a lot more success batting in the second innings, and I feel it’ll suit the team. In Shoaib Malik they have one of the best at calculating a chase, especially in the T20 format.
The upcoming matches take place at Sharjah, and the Kings will be hoping a change in venue will also bring a change in results. The toss as always will be crucial, but the team must go in to the games with belief and determination. So far they look timid, and they aren’t playing as a unit. They need to see the upcoming games as a chance to redeem themselves for the weak displays they’ve put on so far. I believe they can do it. It’ll take just one good performance to inspire them.