Wednesday, March 01, 2023
The first 16 matches of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) have been thrilling for audiences and players alike as each match proves the mettle of different teams. Islamabad United and Karachi Kings — currently ranked number three and four on the points table, respectively — have had some hits and misses in the tournament so far.
It has been a bag of mixed results for Shadab Khan’s men. They have beaten Karachi Kings, Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators, but have faced big defeats to Lahore Qalandars (by 110 runs) and Multan Sultans (by 52 runs).
That they will have the support of the home crowd for the entire next round bodes well, and the two-time champions will be hoping to win maximum matches to finish the league stage as the best side.
Hasan Ali’s return to form and his incredible player-of-the-match performance against Peshawar Zalmi adds an element of aggression and firepower to their pace attack. The right-arm fast bowler has taken seven wickets in only three matches at a strike rate of 10.2.
Azam Khan’s swashbuckling 97 against Quetta Gladiators is already a contender for the innings of the season. The hard-hitting wicketkeeper-batter has the most runs for his side (170 runs at a 175.25) and his presence in the middle-order ensures that Islamabad United continue to play their brand of all-out attack cricket, in case of top-order misfiring – which was on display that night in Karachi.
Kings have played a total of six matches so far, but have only managed to win two of those matches. They may feel hard done by lady luck as three of their four defeats have been by close margins — by two runs against Peshawar Zalmi, by six runs against Quetta Gladiators and by three runs against Multan Sultans at the latter’s home.
They will, however, take heart from their crushing 66-run win over Multan Sultans on Sunday in what was their last match at home, and how they steamrolled arch-rivals Lahore Qalandars by 67 runs.
They will not have home advantage anymore as they travel to Rawalpindi, where they play Peshawar Zalmi, Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators before locking horns with Lahore Qalandars at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore on 12 March, which will be the last group match of this edition.
Imad Wasim, the Karachi Kings captain, has led his team from the front. He leads his side’s batting and bowling charts with 180 runs at an average of 90 and a strike rate of 176.47 and seven wickets at 22. Tayyab Tahir, who was selected for Pakistan’s squad for New Zealand ODIs in January, promises to be an exciting prospect as he smashed a match-winning half-century against Multan Sultans on what was his PSL debut.