With only two days to go to the start of the HBL PSL 2020, the six teams have their preparations in full swing with an eye on the glittering HBL PSL 2020 trophy.
The first two matches of the season will be played at the National Stadium Karachi followed by the first match in Lahore. Defending champions Quetta Gladiators, losing finalists Peshawar Zalmi, two-time champions Islamabad United and Karachi Kings are based in Karachi. Lahore Qalandars and Multan Sultans are practicing in Lahore.
The coaches of the six teams are busy working out team combinations and strategy ahead of the start of the tournament, they have each picked performers who can make a big impact for their side in the tournament.
Coach of the defending champions Moin Khan who has been involved with the Quetta Gladiators since the start of the HBL PSL, he feels the tournament is a great platform for youngsters and they should do their best and make full use of the opportunities that come their way.
Moin has identified fast bowlers Mohammad Hasnain and Naseem Shah as his trump cards along with young batsman Azam Khan.
“While it is very difficult to identify three players out of our squad since all players are capable, I would say all three; Hasnain, Naseem and Azam have the potential to turn a game on its head with their performances,” Moin said. “Hasnain and Naseem have both tasted success at the international level, their pace will be vital to our plans and they can rattle the opposition batsmen. “
“Likewise, Azam is a talented player; he is a big-hitter and has tremendous potential. The way he is practicing and working hard on the game, he can make a big impact when he gets the opportunity to play,” he added.
Like Moin, Mohammad Akram is also a part of the Peshawar Zalmi management since the start of the HBL PSL. Akram’s strategy and planning have remained vital to Zalmi’s success in the league. Akram has identified several players who he thinks hold the key to Zalmi’s shot at the title.
“Kamran Akmal and Wahab Riaz have been retained due to their outstanding record for Zalmi; they are our proven match winners. England’s Tom Banton is also a very exciting pick for us given his recent performances in the T20 circuit around the world,” Akram said. “Our youngsters Mohammad Mohsin and Haider Ali are also a part of the squad and have great potential and ability.”
Mohsin and Haider were part of the emerging team that won the ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup last year, Haider also represented Pakistan in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup played in South Africa last month.
Karachi Kings, Dean Jones, who is in his first year with Karachi Kings after having previously coached Islamabad United to two titles has pinned hopes on four local players for a big impact in this year’s HBL PSL. These included Awais Zia, Arshad Iqbal, Umar Khan and Usama Mir.
“Awais is a very exciting batsman with a good technique and base, his batting will be crucial for us when he finds a spot in the eleven. Likewise, I am very impressed by Arshad, Umar and Usama who are all talented and capable bowlers,” Jones said. “The HBL PSL is a big platform for youngsters and I hope these players make the most of it. Umar, I feel should be regularly playing first-class cricket too, he is one bowler who has a lot of potential.”
Multan Sultans head coach Andy Flower is working in the HBL PSL for the second time, he worked with Peshawar Zalmi in the inaugural HBL PSL season (2016). Flower is looking forward to his stint with the Sultans as he feels he has a very capable squad under his belt.
Flower thinks Rohail Nazir and Mohammad Ilyas are two young potential match winners in the squad who have it in them to make their presence felt in the HBL PSL.
“Rohail batted very well in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup semi-final against India, he would learn a great deal by playing the HBL PSL especially with foreign stars in the tournament,” Flower said. “Ilyas likewise has a lot of potential; he has all the attributes of fast bowling. He can bowl a very good yorker, out swing and slower ball. I have full trust in his abilities.”
Lahore Qalandars coach Aaqib Javed feels Qalandars selections after the Draft were criticised due to their reliance on younger players. Aaqib though has full confidence in the abilities of the squad that Qalandars have assembled for HBL PSL 2020.
“Other than Mohammad Hafeez, Fakhar Zaman and Chris Lynn players like Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf are the players who are our match winners,” Aaqib said. “While our squad is balanced and we have a great combination, these players are the ones who can turn it around big time for us. I feel we can turn the tables this time around.”
“Both Haris and Shaheen have the experience of Pakistani pitches and I am sure they will bring it in use across all four HBL PSL venues,” he added.
Misbahul Haq has full trust in the abilities of his entire squad assembled for the HBL PSL 2020. The seasoned campaigner who led United to the title in the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2016 knows the United squad inside out after also having been a part of the squad when it won the title for the second time in 2018.
Misbah returns to the team after spending the last season with Peshawar Zalmi in the role of Mentor-Player.
“We have won two titles in the past; we have a balanced squad full of exciting talent. In Luke Ronchi and Asif Ali we have two players who can play match winning innings for us,” Misbah said. “Meanwhile, Colin Ingram, Colin Munro and Dale Steyn will represent the franchise for the first time, we all know their cricketing abilities and world class stature.”
“Steyn’s presence especially will help the fast bowlers in our squad hence he will be an extremely valuable member of the squad for us,” he added.