PSL: It will be a record if we can defend title, says Karachi skipper

PSL-Babar Azam
A classy follow through of the bat by Babar Azam, star batsman of Karachi Kings, in practice in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Image Credit: Twitter

Kolkata: The remaining part of Pakistan Super League VI, which gets underway at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, will be the first in a series of cricket extravaganza lined up in the country throughout the year. Past champions Islamabad United and Lahore Qalandars will face off in the opener from 8 pm UAE time.

The PSL, which had to be suspended midway in March following a few positive cases of COVID-19 among the players, will parade the best talent of Pakistan cricket – along with some of the most sought-after names franchise cricket like Andrew Russell, Faf du Plessis, Martin Guptill, Rashid Khan or Colin Munroe. The tournament continues till June 24, following which the international players of Pakistan team will take the flight for England.

Looking ahead at their first game, Saeed Ajmal, the veteran Pakistan off spinner who turns out for the Islamabad franchise said that the squad had been gelling together after five sessions of practice and looking forward to resume their campaign. ‘‘Hasan Ali, our pace bowling warhead, has been in great spirits while Faheem Ashraf is also excelling with both bat and ball. Colin Munroe has been having a good hit at the nets and looks set to trouble the opponents,’’ Ajmal said in recorded message for the media.

“I am excited to be back with PSL and Lahore Qalandars. I had couple of good games with them earlier and the team went off to a good start. I am hopeful to help them continue with the momentum and we will take one match at a time,’’ Rashid Khan, the enigmatic leg spinner of Lahore, said a few days back.

The six-team table looks poised on the edge when it was halted in Karachi – an indication of how close the competition was – with champions Karachi Kings, Peshawar Zalmi, Islamabad and Lahore all poised on six points.

Karachi open their campaign against Multan Sultans in a day game on Thursday and their skipper Imad Wasim says it’s difficult to predict the winners as always. ‘‘No team has been able to defend their title in five editions of the PSL so far. It will be a record if we can but our first target is to make the play-offs,’’ the Pakistan allrounder said in a virtual press conference on Tuesday.

Wasim, who was not particularly impressive either with the bat or ball in the first leg of the tournament in Karachi, is more concerned about the Abu Dhabi heat at the moment and the possible dew factor in the late games – which are scheduled for 9 pm start on day of the double headers.

‘‘Yes, we noticed at practice sessions that there is a lot of dew. We will watch the first game between Lahore & Islamabad on Wednesday and then decide on what could be the ideal scenario,’’ he observed.

The PSL will be followed by the remaining leg of Indian Premier League in the UAE in September-October. The UAE, along with Oman, are also on stand by to host the T20 World Cup following the IPL.

Fixtures

June 9: Lahore Qalanders vs Islamabad United (Night)

June 10: Multan Sultans vs Karachi Kings (Day); Peshawar Zalmi vs Lahore Qalandars (Night)

June 11: Islamabad vs Quetta Gladiators (Night)

June 12: Quetta vs Peshawar (Night)

June 13: Islamabad vs Lahore (Day); Multan vs Peshawar (Night)

June 14: Islamabad vs Karachi (Night)

June 15: Quetta vs Lahore (Day); Peshawar vs Karachi (Night)

June 16: Multan vs Quetta (Night)

June 17: Islamabad vs Peshawar (Day); Karachi vs Lahore (Night)

June 18: Multan vs Lahore (Night)

June 19: Quetta vs Karachi (Day) ; Multan vs Islamabad (Night)

June 21: Qualifier: Team 1 vs Team 2 (Day); Eliminator: Team 3 vs Team 4 (Night)ry much in

June 22: Eliminator 2: Eliminator Winner vs Qualifier Runner-Up (Night)

June 24: Final: TBC (Night)

Match timings: 8 pm UAE (single matches)

5 pm & 9 pm (Double headers)