Karachi Kings’ success graph is rising in the HBL Pakistan Super League. The Kings had a dismal first year in 2016 when they won only two games and finished fourth in the points table, but after that, they have finished third and second in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
If that trend is anything to go by, the Kings will be favorites to top the points table in the fourth HBL PSL in which they will play their first game against Multan Sultans on February 15 in Dubai.
Last year, the Kings were hampered due to injuries to their two key players – the captain Imad Wasim and the all-rounder Shahid Afridi. Lahore rain curtailed their eliminator against Peshawar Zalmi to a 16-over-a-side affair, which also didn’t help their cause as they were knocked out before the final.
Although they will miss the services of Afridi this season as the all-rounder has joined Multan Sultans, the return of Imad and his form are a welcome sign for them.
The left-arm spinner was player-of-the-match on his international return earlier this season when he took three for 20 against Australia in a T20I in Dubai. Pakistan clean swept Australia and New Zealand 3-0 in T20Is at the back of his economical bowling (5.83) in six matches.
“I am very excited to play the HBL PSL four and looking forward to captaining Karachi Kings. This time we are going to play at our home ground as well and I am looking forward to that as well. We will try our level best to perform in the tournament,” said Imad Wasim, the captain of Karachi Kings.
The Kings will be looking at him to emulate the same economy-rate, especially if he takes the new ball with Mohammad Amir, another bowler with a staggering economy rate in the PowerPlay. Amir in overs 1-6 in HBL PSLs has conceded at a rate of just 5.64 per over, and if he bowls in tandem with the captain, they could form the best opening duo of the tournament.
The Kings could potentially have the best opening pair in batting too. The ICC’s top two ranked batmen, Babar Azam and Colin Munro, both are on the Kings’ roster and likely to the start the innings together. Babar this season became the fastest to 1,000 runs in T20Is breaking Virat Kohli’s record, while Munro’s career strike-rate (161.82) is highest for any batsman with, at least, 1,000 runs in T20Is.
Colin Ingram is another overseas talent who will be keen to take his form from the Big Bash League to the HBL PSL. Ingram has scored 333 runs at a strike-rate of 138.75 in the ongoing tournament in Australia and due to the value he brings in the middle-order, he was one of those players the Kings retained before the draft.
A huge plus point for Karachi Kings this season is the availability of their foreign players. Except for Colin Munro (who misses the first week due to national commitments), all of Karachi’s players are likely to be available throughout the tournament.
Colin Ingram, Karachi King’s middle-order batsman, said: “Really excited to get back again. Last year it was my first season and I really enjoyed it. Fairly enjoyed the company of the guys in the Karachi Kings. Hopefully this year we can go all the way as I look forward to see Karachi as well.
The Kings surely have the power to be among the best teams in the coming tournament and bearing in mind that the final is in Karachi it will be a surreal experience for their fans to see them perform in the final at the National Stadium.
Squad (as per pick order):
Overseas: Colin Munro (New Zealand), Colin Ingram (South Africa), Ravi Bopara (England), Sikandar Raza (Zimbabwe), Aaron Summers (Australia), Ben Dunk (Australia), 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, Umer Khan.
Schedule of matches:
15 February – v Multan Sultans (d), Sharjah
16 February – v Lahore Qalandars (n), Dubai
21 February – v Peshawar Zalmi (n), Sharjah
23 February – v Islamabad United (n), Sharjah
24 February – v Quetta Gladiators (n), Sharjah
27 February – v Islamabad United (n), Dubai
28 February – v Lahore Qalandars (n), Dubai
4 March – v Multan Sultan (n), Abu Dhabi
7 March – v Peshawar Zalmi (n), Karachi
10 March – v Quetta Gladiators (d), Karachi
27 January: HBL PSL – A trip the memory lane
28 January: HBL PSL – Through the eyes of the pundits
29 January: HBL PSL – a statistical review
30 January – Graeme Smith, Matthew Hayden, Ramiz Raja to call HBL PSL 2019
31 January: HBL PSL – The movers and shakers
1 February – Islamabad United – The most successful HBL PSL side
2 February: Lahore Qalandars – The heart of HBL PSL
3 February: Multan Sultans – HBL PSL popularity set to increase many folds
5 February: Quetta Gladiators – From underdogs to a force to be reckoned with in HBL PSL
6 February – Peshawar Zalmi – An epitome of consistency at HBL PSL