Team NewsAndy Flower takes on veteran Multan Sultans side with its best shot yet at PSL glory

February 18, 2020

Andy Flower takes on veteran Multan Sultans side with its best shot yet at PSL glory

Coach: Andy Flower

Captain: Shan Masood

Last time: Fifth

Previous best: Fifth in 2018 and 2019

Key players

Shahid Afridi: Boom Boom may have aged about five years since the 2019 edition of the PSL, but the 45-year-old allrounder remains one of the game’s biggest household names for a reason and it would be foolish to bet against him turning at least a game or two in the Sultans’ favour as the PSL takes place entirely on home soil for the first time.

Back in July’s Global T20 Canada, Afridi lashed an unbeaten 81 from 40 balls against an Edmonton Royals attack featuring Jimmy Neesham, Ben Cutting and Shadab Khan; last year’s PSL campaign may have yielded just 52 runs in eight matches, but Afridi was also the Sultans’ leading wicket-taker with 10 victims and an economy of 6.74.

Moeen Ali: After much speculation, last week’s confirmation that England’s Test squad for Sri Lanka had no place for the allrounder clears the way for him to get back into the short-form groove and make his case for a trip to the T20 World Cup in Australia in October.

Worcestershire man Moeen has captained his county to back-to-back T20 Blast finals, with each of his last nine matches for the Rapids including double-figure scores as well as pivotal and economical wickets.

He arrives in Pakistan in rather good shape to boot, having dismissed Quinton de Kock as a new-ball bowler in his first international T20 since October 2018 to open the series before striking a game-changing 39 from 11 balls from No.6 to swing the Durban fixture firmly in England’s favour.

Rohail Nazir: Just the 27 years Afridi’s junior, the gloveman is still to make his PSL debut, but the makeup of the Sultans’ squad this year looks certain to give the teenager plentiful opportunities to make a name for himself during this year’s competition.

Nazir has just returned from captaining Pakistan to third place at the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa, where he finished as the side’s second-highest run-scorer – just as he had done as a 16-year-old at the 2018 edition in New Zealand.

He has also demonstrated his promise for Pakistan’s Emerging side, scoring a List A century from No.3 against their Bangladesh counterparts in a tournament final in November, and extended time around coach Andy Flower’s setup is sure to bring his game on massively.

Strengths

The PSL’s newest side has brought out the big guns ahead of its third campaign, with former England boss Andy Flower recruited as head coach, and leader of a backroom line-up that also features county stalwarts Mushtaq Ahmed and Azhar Mahmood as bowling coaches, former colleague Richard Halsall on fielding duty, and Nathan Leamon – the long-time analyst for the England side and a co-founder of CricViz – as director of strategy.

A plentiful gathering of interdisciplinary talent will be at their disposal as well, with England allrounder Moeen Ali joined in offering a versatile set of talents by compatriot Ravi Bopara, West Indies youngster Fabian Allen (from March 7) and, of course, Shahid Afridi in offering a versatile set of talents.

With a strong display from an evergreen bowling lineup, featuring the likes of Sohail Tanvir and Imran Tahir, the Sultans could be real contenders.

Weaknesses

The Sultans’ squad is very reliant on a veteran core, with Afridi and Tahir set to be the tournament’s only quadragenarians and three more players also perhaps on the wrong side of 35 in Tanvir, Mohammad Irfan and Wayne Madsen, who was recently called up to cover for Allen’s international duty.

This year’s incarnation of the Punjab team may also struggle in situations that call for raw batting firepower. Andre Russell and Johnson Charles – the low-scoring side’s fastest strikers last time out – are both absent from this year’s tournament, and significant pressure will fall upon new recruits Moeen Ali and Rilee Rossouw to offer the side some scoring some form of scoring momentum early on.

Squad

Shan Masood (c), Moeen Ali (ENG), Shahid Afridi, Fabian Allen (WI, from March 7), Zeeshan Ashraf, Bilawal Bhatti, Ravi Bopara (ENG), Mohammad Ilyas, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Wayne Madsen (ENG, until March 7), Rohail Nazir (wk), Rilee Rossouw (SA), Usman Qadir, Ali Shafiq, Khushdil Shah, Imran Tahir (SA), Sohail Tanvir, James Vince (ENG)

Courtesy by  : thecricketer