Islamabad United heads into the sixth edition of PSL looking to bounce back from a disappointing campaign last time around. They revamped their squad with superstars Alex Hales and Hasan Ali and filled out the rest of the gaps in their team. Kiwi opener Colin Munro’s absence might hurt them, but the team’s management is adamant that they still have a strong squad to cope with his absence.
Captain: Shadab Khan
Coach: Johan Botha
Assistant coach: Saeed Ajmal
Bowling coach: Rumman Raees
Best Finish: Champions (PSL 1 and PSL 3)
Last year finish: Sixth
Islamabad United has always had a squad filled with all-rounders and this time is no different. They have a host of all-rounders that can impact the game in any aspect. Faheem Ashraf is in red hot form with the national team and will be looking to continue that in the PSL. Shadab Khan himself was a revelation with the bat in his previous campaign and will be raring to go after regaining full fitness.
Islamabad drafted in English all-rounder Lewis Gregory as well. Gregory has made a name for himself in franchise T20 leagues and is known as a hard hitter in the lower order and his medium pace bowling has troubled the batsmen more often than not.
Hussain Talat, Zafar Gohar, and Iftikhar Ahmed are more than capable of hurting opponents with both the bat and the ball.
Islamabad will be boosted by the arrival of Johan Botha as their coach as well. Botha is renowned for his shrewd thinking and proved himself to be an excellent T20 captain for South Africa previously. Botha will provide the team a fresh perspective after a disappointing last season.
Islamabad United’s pace bowling attack looks vulnerable. Although they have drafted Hasan Ali, who is in terrific form, the team still looks short in the fast bowling department. English fast bowler, Reece Topley, will be unavailable for most of the campaign after being selected in the England T20I squad. Apart from Hasan Ali, only Musa Khan is the genuine pacer available for the entire PSL.
Faheem Ashraf will be expected to provide the main threat along with the two pacers. Faheem’s bowling has witnessed a decline ever since he suffered a shoulder injury, almost a year ago.
Islamabad’s top-order looks fragile as well. Islamabad was heavily relying on Colin Munro to partner Alex Hales at the top of the order. Their plans took a hit as Munro announced his decision not to take part in the tournament this year.
Their superstar opener Luke Ronchi had already opted out of the tournament, which leaves a huge gap at the top of the order. Islamabad will be looking to replace Munro with a similar type of player.
Shadab Khan and Alex Hales are excellent cricketers and Islamabad will be looking towards them to provide the impetus, but Islamabad’s superstar this year is Hasan Ali.
Hasan Ali’s form is exquisite, he led Central Punjab to the final of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy recently and was named man of the tournament. He made a comeback to the national side and picked up his first ten-wicket haul in the Test series against South Africa.
Hasan had struggled from injury issues for a long time, but a fully fit Hasan Ali is an asset for both Pakistan and Islamabad United. Hasan’s energy is his most vital characteristic, his never say die attitude and his leadership qualities and not to mention his friendship with Shadab and Faheem will prove beneficial for United.
Zafar Gohar has been one of the best performers in Pakistan domestic circuit for the past few years. Although he hasn’t played as much for Islamabad as he would have liked, Gohar has always risen to the occasion when given a chance.
He is an excellent left-arm spinner and is quite handy with the bat too. If the pitches in Karachi are as spinner friendly as seen in the first Test match between Pakistan and South Africa, then Gohar can prove to be a trump card for Islamabad United.
Judging by the number of options and their excellent recruitment, Islamabad has all the tools to go on and win their third title. Only time will tell if that will happen or not, but Islamabad looks set to be crowned champions of PSL once again.
Our predicted finish for Islamabad United is runners-up.
|Shadab Khan (c)||Alex Hales||Hasan Ali|
|Colin Munro*||Faheem Ashraf||Lewis Gregory|
|Asif Ali||Phil Salt (wk)||Zafar Gohar|
|Hussain Talat||Musa Khan||Iftikhar Ahmed|
|Rohail Nazir (wk)||Reece Topley**||Mohammad Waseem Jnr.|
|Ahmed Safi Abdullah||Chris Jordan**||Akif Javed|
* Replacement TBA
|1||Sunday, 21 February||Islamabad United vs Multan Sultans||7:00 pm||National Stadium Karachi|
|2||Wednesday, 24 February||Karachi Kings vs Islamabad United||7:00 pm||National Stadium Karachi|
|3||Saturday, 27 February||Peshawar Zalmi vs Islamabad United||7:00 pm||National Stadium Karachi|
|4||Monday, 1 March||Islamabad United v Quetta Gladiators||7:00 pm||National Stadium Karachi|
|5||Thursday, 4 March||Lahore Qalandars v Islamabad United||7:00 pm||National Stadium Karachi|
|6||Saturday, 6 March||Islamabad United v Quetta Gladiators||2:00 pm||National Stadium Karachi|
|7||Sunday, 7 March||Islamabad United v Karachi Kings||7:00 pm||National Stadium Karachi|
|8||Friday, 12 March||Islamabad United v Lahore Qalandars||7:00 pm||Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore|
|9||Saturday, 13 March||Multan Sultans v Islamabad United||7:00 pm||Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore|
|10||Monday, 15 March||Islamabad United v Peshawar Zalmi||7:00 pm||Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore|