It wouldn’t be wrong to call Lahore Qalandars the unluckiest side of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) because of their performance despite experimenting with the big names including Universe Boss Chris Gale, Mr 360 AB De Villiers and New Zealand’s Brendon Mccullum.
They are the most consistent franchise but their consistency in performance has always been on the lower side as they had finished at last in the last four editions of the PSL. The outing owned by, Rana Fawad, have only managed to win eleven matches out of 36 they played in the history of the tournament.
Qalandars, apart from their performance, are also known for their surprising decisions. Every time they tried something new and unfortunately, nothing worked for them in the right direction. This time too, they came up with a surprise by appointing 33-year-old Sohail Akhtar, the product from Qalandars’ players’ development program.
However, they are confident to turn the tables this time around with 11 new faces and improved performance. Here are some of their strong pointers:
Qalandars once again have taken the services of explosive Australian opener Chris Lynn, who couldn’t participate in the 2018 edition because of the injury issues. As now he is available to Qalandars for the full season, the opposing teams will have an element of fear by the skills he possesses in this format. His hard-hitting skills set him apart from the other batsmen of the team. He has scored 4812 runs in 169 innings at a strike-rate of 142.49.
Currently, Pakistan’s senior-most player Mohammad Hafeez will look to lead Qalandars’ batting with his vast experience. He got ruled out in the last edition due to injury but after making a comeback in the national T20I side against Bangladesh, Hafeez aka professor will look to perform at a consistent rate. His batting record in T20s is staggering as he has scored 5837 runs in 262 innings at an average of 24.52.
The out of form star player Fakhar Zaman is yet another strong option for Qalandars in batting as the left-handed opener keeps the ability to take the game away from the opponents by smashing without having the element of kindness. Fakhar has played 106 matches and scored 2638 runs at a strike rate of 135.14.
Qalandars will also highly depend on Australian Ben Dunk, who last played for Karachi Kings and the consistent performer at domestic level Salman butt.
Experienced overseas all-rounders
Qalandars have opted for all-rounders who are internationally recognized by their skills. They decided to retain South African David Wiese who will again be eager to provide Qalandars the same balance from last year. He can hit the ball hard and can pick up wickets to lead the charge with his medium-pace bowling. The 34-year-old has played 212 matches and has scored 2212 runs at a strike rate of 144.01. He has also taken 168 wickets at an economy of 8.24.
The 35-year-old Samit Patel, a hard-hitting middle-order batsman, and a more-than-capable slow left-arm bowler have been one of the most watchable county cricketers of this generation. He also has the experience of PSL as he was associated with Islamabad United. He has played 266 matches and has scored 4704 runs at an average of 25.70. He has claimed 215 wickets at an economy of 7.25.
A precise legspinner, and an improving late-order hitter, Seekkuge Prasanna has become one of several Sri Lanka spin options in limited-overs internationals. The 34-year-old has played almost every cricket league and can bring a lot into the Qalandars side. He has scored 1641 runs with a strike-rate of 161.35. He has picked 135 wickets in 161 matches with an economy rate of 7.11.
Young Pakistan bowlers:
Qalandars have the services of two leading Pakistani bowlers. The 20-year-old Shaheen Afridi and 25-year-old Usman Khan Shinwari. Shaheen Afridi is going to lead the bowling attack despite he is so young. His T20 record is in the early stage as in 33 matches he has picked 42 wickets at an average of 21.83.
Usman, a regular fast bowler for Pakistan in ODI cricket and also made his Test debut recently will look to step up in T20 cricket as well. He has taken 91 scalps in 71 matches played at a decent average of 20.96.
The 26-year-old Haris Rauf, a new pace sensation for Pakistan team is keen to make a mark for his franchise. He recently exploded on the international scene and went on to play for Pakistan against Bangladesh after brilliant performances with the ball in the Australian Big Bash League (BBL) for Melbourne Stars. He picked 16 wickets in seven matches he played. His T20 record is in the initial stage as he played 27 matches and has taken 37 wickets at an average of 19.02.
Lahore Qalandars squad:
Sohail Akhtar (C) Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shaheen Shah Afridi, David Wiese, Usman Shinwari, Haris Rauf, Salman Butt, Chris Lynn, Samit Patel, Seekkuge Prasanna, Ben Dunk, Farzan Raja, Jaahid Ali, Mohammad Faizan, Lendl Simmons, Dilbar Hussain.
The complete schedule of Lahore Qalandars
Febraury 21 – Lahore Qalandars v Multan Sultans – Gaddafi Stadium (7pm-10.15pm)
February 23 – Lahore Qalandars v Islamabad United – Gaddafi Stadium (7pm-10.15pm)
February 28 – Peshawar Zalmi v Lahore Qalandars – Pindi Cricket Stadium (7pm-10.15pm)
March 3 – Quetta Gladiators v Lahore Qalandars – Gaddafi Stadium (7pm-10.15pm)
March 4 – Islamabad United v Lahore Qalandars – Gaddafi Stadium (7pm-10.15pm)
March 7 – Lahore Qalandars v Quetta Gladiators – Gaddafi Stadium (7pm-10.15pm)
March 8 – Lahore Qalandars v Karachi Kings – Gaddafi Stadium (7pm-10.15pm)
March 10 -Lahore Qalandars v Peshawar Zalmi – Gaddafi Stadium (7pm-10.15pm)
March 12 – Karachi Kings v Lahore Qalandars – National Stadium (7pm-10.15pm)
March 15 – Multan Sultans v Lahore Qalandars – Gaddafi Stadium (2pm-5.15pm)