Cricket: Pakistan Super League Preview

The seventh edition of the Pakistan Super League starts in Karachi on Thursday and runs through until February 27. 

Multan Sultans are the reigning champions having beaten Peshawar Zalmi in the final back in June.

This year, the Pakistan Cricket Board, will hope for as drama free campaign as possible, with the last two having been suspended due to Coronavirus issues and completed at least a few months later.

Once again, six teams will take part; Islamabad United, Karachi Kings, Lahore Qalandars, Multan Sultans, Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators.

There will be plenty of players coming and going. For example, all of those English players involved who are currently on international duty in the Caribbean are scheduled to miss the first three fixtures, give or take a game or two.

Twenty three England players are due to take part over the next month, led by Jason Roy, Liam Livingstone, Chris Jordan, James Vince and Saqib Mahmood. All of these are currently on international duty.

Others, including Yorkshire’s Tom Kohler-Cadmore – back with Peshawar Zalmi – have already landed and are ready to go.

Bowling quality of Lahore gives them a great chance

There is a well known phrase in short-form cricket. ‘Batters win you games, bowlers win you tournaments’.

And the bowling quality within the Lahore squad is difficult to ignore. Pakistan opening bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi is their new captain and will be joined again in their team by international fast bowling colleague Haris Rauf.

In addition, they have got superstar leg-spinner Rashid Khan at their disposal as well as Ahmed Daniyal and Syed Faridoun, both who played for the Melbourne Stars on overseas deals in the Big Bash over the last couple of months.

Qalandars, who only won five of 10 fixtures in the 2021 edition and failed to make the play-offs, are certainly not without quality in the batting department either.

Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, former captain Sohail Akhtar plus English trio Harry Brook, Samit Patel and Phil Salt will all feature at stages.

They are 4/1 with Paddy Power to win the PSL for the first time and would be my choice.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam’s Karachi Kings are the 7/2 favourites, the best price amongst the bookmakers currently offered by William Hill.

They also have Imad Wasim, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Amir and Joe Clarke at their disposal to name a few.

The outsiders in a tightly packed field are Quetta Gladiators at 13/2 with bet365. James Vince and former Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed are in their squad.

Incidentally, it was a great story to read that Afghanistan all-rounder Nabi has been warming up for the PSL by playing some T20 cricket in Sharjah alongside his 16-year-old son Hassan Khan, who is in a local Academy there.

Could no ordinary Joe top Babar as Karachi’s top batter?

It would take somebody special to top Babar Azam as Karachi Kings’ top tournament run-scorer. But Nottinghamshire’s Joe Clarke is a special talent.

It is amazing to think that the former Worcester right-hander, no slouch in the red ball game either, is yet to make a senior England debut.

Clarke arrived in Pakistan from Australia, where he has been playing Big Bash cricket for Melbourne Stars.

And he had a superb competition opening the batting.

In 13 games, he scored 419 runs with five fifties and a best of 85.

Now Azam is one heck of a player himself, the recently crowned ICC one-day international cricketer of the year no less. But he is an unappetising 2/5 on with bet365 to be Karachi’s top tournament run-scorer. 

Clarke, meanwhile, is 11/4. That could be worth taking.

Karachi Kings play in the opening game of the competition on Thursday, against defending champions Multan Sultans (2pm UK). The tournament is being televised by Sky Sports.

Here at Freebets, we will be covering each match of the PSL finals next month.