Will Islamabad United reclaim PSL crown under new management?


Islamabad United is arguably the most successful franchise of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in terms of winning the titles. They have won two out of four editions of the only cricketing league of Pakistan. From winning the opening PSL title to reclaiming it in 2018, United has dominated throughout.

The two-time champions will be under their new head coach Misbah-ul-Haq, who is playing a dual role in the Pakistan team’s management. They are also under new leadership, appointing young leg-spinner Shadab Khan and his deputy will be all-rounder Faheem Ashraf.

Previously the team did well under the coaching of Dean Jones. They have notched 26 wins in 44 matches played in all the previous four editions.

The franchise picked some of the best T20 players from around the world. South African pace legend Dale Steyn, explosive opener Colin Munro, flamboyant middle-order batsman Colin Ingram are included in the power-packed squad.

Eye-catching national T20 stars:

United, is the only franchise from which a player, after every PSL, represented Pakistan’s national team. This time too, they are up with some exciting young and experienced national cricketers.

Starting up with Shadab, the man who will be carrying a lot of responsibilities. Being a bowling all-rounder, the youngster will be highly looking forward to leading his team from the front. He has picked 136 wickets in 114 matches at an economy rate of 6.82. Having an added advantage of batting, he can hit a few runs as well while keeping a strike-rate of 117.42 in the format.

Faheem Ashraf, the seam-bowling allrounder will be seen in action not more as a new talent but with a new responsibility to his shoulder as vice-captain. The 26-year-old will look to bounce back in the white-ball cricket. He has picked 95 wickets in 87 matches and has scored 566 runs at a healthy strike-rate of 133.

Rumman Raees, whose cricketing career until now is affected by injuries, has recovered quite well for the edition. Once, he was at peak due to representing Pakistan with his way of left-arm pace bowling. He owns several deceiving variations, unexpected yorkers which makes him particularly dangerous both at the start and the death of an inning. He has claimed 99 wickets in 88 matches and contains an economy rate of 7.26.

The all-round duo of Ammad Butt and Hussain Talat will also be key for Islamabad’s success as both can be handy in any department of the game. Another prospect is left-arm orthodox spinner Zafar Gohar, who has performed impressively in the domestic cricket.

A pack of renowned overseas

Pakistan is all set to witness one of the greatest bowlers of world cricket, Dale Steyn who is himself is very excited to be the part of the league. Critics can judge his current form but we all know how he can be a worthwhile prospect for his team. The 36-year-old has declared that he is eyeing the T20 World Cup in Australia and the only focus for him now is white-ball cricket. He has claimed 251 wickets in 213 matches at a cunning economy rate of 6.71.

A bruising left-handed batsman Colin Ingram aka ‘Bulldozer, is yet another strong addition to United’s batting order. Moving from Karachi Kings to United, the South-African cricketer will look to show his existence in Pakistan. With a healthy average of 30.14, he has scored 6452 runs in 256 matches.

South Africa-born-New Zealand’s Colin Munro is the potent power-hitting option for United. Munro has earned a reputation as one of the potent figures of New Zealand in T20 cricket. His strength of demoralizing the bowler from the first ball of the over is the most powerful asset a team can demand from an opener. He has accumulated 6060 in 254 matches at a vulnerable strike rate of 144.59.

England’s Dawid Malan, on the other hand, owns a versatility of batting at any position possessing abilities of power-hitting with flamboyant confidence. The 31-year-old record speaks volume, he has played 195 T20 matches and has scored 5288 runs at an average of 33.25.

Emerging Talent

Young right-arm speedster Mohammad Musa will return to play for United after gaining hype at the international level while playing for Pakistan. He has only played 10 T20s with 12 wickets under his belt at an average of 28.58 but keeps the ability to rattle opposition on his day.

Hailed from Karak, Akif Javed is another promising youngster who will look to find his feats as soon as possible. He impressed the cricket in last year’s National T20 Cup with his intense pace. The left-arm pacer, who tries to copy Mohammad Amir, has played seven T20s and has claimed 9 wickets with the best figures of 3-16.

Left-handed batsman Rizwan Hussain, all-rounder Saif Badar, and Ahmed Safi Abdullah are the other three aspiring players who will look to wait for the opportunities in this year’s edition.

Islamabad United Team Squad 2020

Shadab Khan (captain), Faheem Ashraf, Asif Ali, Luke Ronchi, Hussain Talat, Amad Butt, Musa Khan, Rizwan Hussain, Dale Steyn, Colin Ingram, Colin Munro, Rumman Raees, Phil Salt, Zafar Gohar, Akif Javed, Ahmed Safi Abdullah, Saif Badar, Dawid Malan

The complete schedule of Islamabad United

February 20 – Islamabad United v Quetta Gladiators – National Stadium (7pm-10.15pm)

February 22 – Islamabad United v Multan Sultans – Gaddafi Stadium (7pm-10.15pm)

February 23 – Islamabad United v Lahore Qalandars – Gaddafi Stadium (7pm-10.15pm)

February 27 – Islamabad United v Quetta Gladiators – Pindi Cricket Stadium (7pm-10.15pm)

February 29 – Islamabad United v Peshawar Zalmi – Pindi Cricket Stadium (7 pm-10.15 pm)

March 1 – Islamabad United v Karachi Kings – Pindi Cricket Stadium (7 pm-10.15 pm)

March 4 – Islamabad United v Lahore Qalandars – Gaddafi Stadium (7pm-10.15pm)

March 7 – Islamabad United v Peshawar Zalmi – Pindi Cricket Stadium (2 pm-5.15 pm)

March 8 – Islamabad United v Multan Sultans – Pindi Cricket Stadium (2pm-5.15pm)

March 14 – Islamabad United v Karachi Kings – National Stadium (7pm-5.15pm)