PSL 8 Preview: Lahore Qalandars’ Strengths, Weaknesses and X-Factor

Defending champions, Lahore Qalandars, will be determined to become the first team in Pakistan Super League (PSL) history to retain their title and in the process become only the second team in the competition’s history to win the PSL title more than once.

Lahore Qalandars, under the leadership of Pakistan’s ace pacer, Shaheen Shah Afridi, shocked the cricketing world in PSL 7 as they won the title for the first time in history. Previously, they had reached the final only one time, as they lost to arch-rivals Karachi Kings in 2021.

This time around, Lahore’s management has picked up a solid squad in the PSL 2023 draft, which has the ingredients to win the title once more. The likes of Sikandar Raza and Liam Dawson have added extra quality to an already star-studded squad. While they have lost star players such as Mohammad Hafeez and Samit Patel, they do possess enough cover to take them all the way.

PSL 8 Squad

Lahore will be led by Shaheen Afridi in PSL 8 with the likes of Haris Rauf, Fakhar Zaman, Rashid Khan, Sikandar Raza, and David Wiese forming a strong core of the squad. Hussain Talat and Liam Dawson’s inclusion in the squad has also provided extra solidity to the team.

Here is the 18-man squad:

Shaheen Afridi (c) Fakhar Zaman Rashid Khan Haris Rauf David Wiese Sikandar Raza
Hussain Talat Liam Dawson Abdullah Shafique Harry Brook Dilbar Hussain Mirza Tahir Baig
Ahmed Daniyal Kamran Ghulam Shawaiz Irfan (wk) Zaman Khan Jordan Cox (wk) Jalat Khan

Previous PSL Finishes

Historically, Lahore has been the worst-performing team in PSL history. They have only qualified for the playoffs twice in their history, reaching the final on both occasions. In the other five editions, they have finished last four times while they finished second last in PSL 2021.

Here is how they have performed throughout PSL:

PSL Edition Year Position finished
1 2016 5th (last)
2 2017 5th (last)
3 2018 6th (last)
4 2019 6th (last)
5 2020 Runner-up
6 2021 5th (2nd last)
7 2022 Champions

Strengths

World Class Bowling Unit

Lahore Qalandars’ strength lies in their world-class bowling unit. The likes of Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, and Rashid Khan form one of the most lethal bowling combinations in world cricket and add to that the quality of young pacer, Zaman Khan, and the experienced trio Sikandar Raza, David Wiese, and Liam Dawson, Qalandars have certainly the best bowling attack in the tournament.

Lahore will be hoping that their captain, Shaheen Afridi, fully recovers from his knee injury, which he sustained during the final of the 2022 T20 World Cup, and continues his form from PSL 7. Shaheen finished as the leading wicket-taker in PSL 7 as he picked up 20 wickets at an average of 19.70 in 13 matches in the tournament.

Here’s the overall T20 record of Lahore’s bowling unit:

Player Matches Wickets Average Economy Rate
Shaheen Afridi 126 176 20.53 7.61
Haris Rauf 141 188 22.53 8.25
Rashid Khan 367 494 18.18 6.38
Zaman Khan 30 40 22.35 8.26
Liam Dawson 219 168 26.08 7.21
Sikandar Raza 160 83 28.22 7.31
David Wiese 314 251 26.05 8.34

Lahore Qalandars also possess a lot of talented bowlers on their bench, with players such as Ahmed Daniyal and Dilbar Hussain. They also have the part-time services of Hussain Talat and Kamran Ghulam, who can come in handy as well.

Solid Batting Unit

While much of Lahore’s success in the previous edition was down to their exceptional bowling, their batting played a huge part as well in holding the fort. Pakistan’s opening batter, Fakhar Zaman was Lahore’s star batter as he finished the tournament as the leading run-scorer. Fakhar scored 588 runs at an average of 45.23 and a strike rate of 152.72 in 13 innings in PSL 2022.

The introduction of Harry Brook in the middle order was the game-changer for Lahore as Brook took PSL by storm. His explosive run-scoring in the middle order was a major factor in their hunt for the title. Brook scored 288 runs, including a sensational century, at an average of 52.80 and a strike rate of 171.42 in 8 innings in PSL 7.

They have added the likes of Sikandar Raza, who has been in top form in 2022, Hussain Talat, and Liam Dawson to add further quality to the batting unit which already consisted of the likes of Kamran Ghulam, Abdullah Shafique, and David Wiese.

Here is the overall T20 batting record of Lahore’s batters:

Player Innings Runs Average Strike Rate
Fakhar Zaman 189 5,007 27.66 133.98
Abdullah Shafique 38 997 28.48 127.33
Kamran Ghulam 43 948 24.94 122.79
Sikandar Raza 149 3,123 23.30 129.47
Hussain Talat 129 2,837 30.50 124.42
Harry Brook 93 2,432 33.77 148.38
David Wiese 234 3,666 23.80 144.27
Liam Dawson 164 2,256 18.34 114.45

Weaknesses

Wicket-keeping options

Lahore missed a trick by missing out on an established wicket-keeper in the squad. They opted to pick young Pakistan Junior League (PJL) star, Shawaiz Irfan, and inexperienced young English wicket-keeper, Jordan Cox, in their squad. Jordan Cox has only played 62 T20s in his short career while Shawaiz is yet to play in a match in senior professional cricket.

This might come back to bite them as both the inexperienced players might trouble them in picking a solid team combination. While they do possess a lot of talent, their lack of experience at the top level might jeopardize Lahore’s position in crunch situations.

Bench Strength

While Lahore’s starting eleven is one of the strongest in the league, they do lack the same quality on the bench, which could prove to be crucial in the tournament. The likes of Ahmed Daniyal and Dilbar Hussain have proven to be solid bench players over the years but Lahore’s decision to pick inexperienced players such as Mirza Tahir Baig, Shawaiz Irfan, and Jalat Khan may prove to be detrimental.

An injury to one of the star players could lead to major problems for Lahore as the drop in quality of the replacement will be huge. Lahore’s overall squad strength might have an adverse impact on their campaign.

X-Factor

Lahore Qalandars have the luxury of many superstars in their squad with the likes of Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi, Rashid Khan, and Fakhar Zaman at their disposal but the latest induction of Sikandar Raza has provided their squad with an extra force. Raza has been in exceptional form throughout 2022 and was named in the list of nominees for ICC ODI, T20I, and overall player of the year awards.

The 36-year-old’s red-hot form both with the bat and the ball provides the team with a perfect balance and he could prove to be the difference in tense situations. Raza has outstanding numbers in T20 cricket over the past year and was instrumental in Zimbabwe’s solid showing in the 2022 T20 World Cup.

Overall, Raza has a wealth of experience with over 3,000 runs at 83 wickets in T20 cricket all over the world and Lahore fans will be hoping that he continues his purple patch in the upcoming PSL 8.


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