Six to watch: Pakistan Super League Preview

By Ronan Alexander

The Pakistan Super League 6 gets underway tomorrow, live on the Sky cameras for UK viewers as Karachi Kings look to retain their title. We take a look through each squad, highlighting all players aged 24 or under, and select one-to-watch from each franchise before the action starts.

Islamabad Utd

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Captain: Shadab KhanCoach: Johan Botha

Best finish: Winners (2016, 2018)Last season: Sixth

Squad: Alex Hales, Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Hussain Talat, Musa Khan, Shadab Khan, Zafar Gohar, Hassan Ali, Lewis Gregory, Phil Salt, Rohail Nazir, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Wasim, Ahmed Saifi Abdullah, Akif Javed, Paul Stirling, Ali Khan, Fawad Ahmed

One to watch: Muhammad Musa Khan (20)

A 20-year-old right arm quick who has already featured for Pakistan in all three formats. The two-time winners pace attack has been boosted by the addition of Hassan Ali, but there will be a lot of trust needed to be shown in Musa and he will aim to prove he’s got what it takes. He claimed six wickets in the last tournament which earned him a spot in the national squad to face Zimbabwe. In the Pakistan National T20 Cup he grabbed 9 wickets, with his economy sliding under 8 an over. A big opportunity for Musa to make a name for himself as the main man of Islamabad’s seam attack.

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Karachi Kings

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Captain: Imad WasimCoach: Herschelle Gibbs

Best finish: Winners (2020)Last season: Winners

Squad: Amir Yamin, Arshad Iqbal, Babar Azam, Colin Ingram, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Sharjeel Khan, Waqas Maqsood, Mohammad Nabi, Dan Christian, Chadwick Walton, Joe Clarke, Noor Ahmad, Danish Aziz, Mohammad Ilyas, Zeeshan Malik, Qasim Akram, Abbas Afridi

One to watch: Noor Ahmad (16)

The 16-year-old left arm wrist spinner comes into the tournament after impressing for Melbourne Renegades in BBL10. The Afghan spinner features in a strong spin bowling attack and will be supported through the likes of fellow countryman Mohammad Nabi and captain Imad Wasim who also featured for Renegades. He played six times in BBL10, claiming two wickets. Has 21 T20 games under his belt after turning out for Mis Ainak Knights in the Shpageeza Cricket League in Afghanistan where his side finished runners up. Afghanistan director of cricket Andy Moles describes him as a match winner who will take wickets in the middle overs and gets his googly to turn prodigiously. Also, impressed at the Under-19 World Cup, claiming seven wickets in five games with an economy rate of 3.93. Someone we can expect to be writing about a lot more over the coming years. In PSL5 Karachi Kings had the best bowling economy rate (7.18) in the powerplay, so should Ahmad be given the opportunity, he can expect a good platform to bowl from in those middle overs.

Lahore Qalanders

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Captain: Sohail AkhtarCoach: Aaqib Javed

Best finish: Third in group, runners-up in final (2020)Last season: Third in group, runners-up in final

Squad: Ben Dunk, David Wiese, Dilbar Hussain, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hafeez, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sohail Akhtar, Rashid Khan, Joe Denly, Samit Patel, Tom Abell, Zeeshan Ashraf, Salman Ali Agha, Mohammad Faizan, Maaz Khan, Zaid Alam, Ahmed Danyal

One to watch: Shaheen Shah Afridi (20)

Had an outstanding PSL5 and has quickly become more mature and consistent the more he plays. Being appointed as vice-captain shows that level of maturity so early in his career. Top wicket taker in the last tournament, with 17 scalps at 19.52 and an economy rate of 7.11. Bowling in tandem with Haris Rauf looks like one of the most exciting combinations in the tournament. Their attack looks extremely well balanced with Afridi (left arm) and Rauf (right arm) as the quicks, then leg-spin of Rashid Khan, slow left arm of Samit Patel and right arm off-break with Mohammad Hafeez, and David Wiese also in the mix. Part of the Pakistan side who were so successful against South Africa and featured in all three T20 matches, which Pakistan won 2-1. Although Afridi’s best performance (2/18) came in the defeat. Will be aiming to go one better after finishing as runners up last time out.

Multan Sultans

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Captain: Mohammad RizwanCoach: Andy Flower

Best finish: Group winners, lost in eliminator (2020)Last season: Group winners, lost in eliminator

Squad: Shahid Afridi, Imran Tahir, James Vince, Khushdil Shah, Rilee Rossouw, Shan Masood, Sohail Tanvir, Usman Qadir, Chris Lynn, Sohail Khan, Mohammad Rizwan, Carlos Brathwaite, Sohaib Maqsood, Sohaib Ullah, Adam Lyth, Shahnawaz Dhani, Muhammad Umar, Imran Khan Sr

One to watch: Shahnawaz Dhani (22)

Multan Sultans have the fewest young players in their ranks but Dhani, a right-arm seamer, will be determined to make the most of his opportunity. Has had to work his way up, after impressing for Sindh 2nd XI which eventually earned him a first team call-up, collecting 27 wickets in eight first class matches in his career so far. Yet to make his T20 debut, he missed out on selection last year so is eager to grab his chance with both hands and kick on. 27 wickets were taken by spinners by Multan Sultans, nine more than any other franchise with the experience of Imran Tahir and Shahid Afridi being the spearhead of the attack. So Dhani will be aiming to support Sohail Tanvir who grabbed 14 wickets as the frontline seamer last term.

Peshawar Zalmi

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Captain: Wahab RiazCoach: Daren Sammy

Best finish: Champions (2017)Last season: Fourth

Squad: Wahab Riaz, Abrar Ahmed, Kamran Akmal, Haider Ali, Umaid Asif, Ravi Bopara, Amad Butt, Iman-ul-Haq, Mohammad Imran, Mohammad Imran Randhawa, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Amir Khan, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Saqib Mahmood, Shoaib Malik, David Miller, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Sherfane Rutherford

One to watch: Saqib Mahmood (23)

Having been left out of the England T20 squad to face India next month, Mahmood comes into the tournament with a point to prove as he looks to stake his claim to force his way back into the side. Had a taste of PSL last year, featuring in one match, taking 3/41. The Lancs quick who has 10 England appearances to his name is part of a Zalmi side who had the joint worst strike rate in the powerplay last year. So, Mahmood’s presence as a frontline seamer this time round could help to change that, as well as his capabilities of bowling at the death. Hassan Ali was a key cog of Peshawar Zalmi’s attack last year, so his move to Islamabad United opens up a gap for Mahmood to fill. The motivation of the T20 World Cup gives the platform to perform as well as the fact Zalmi have qualified for the knockout stage in all five editions of the tournament. You can also expect Mahmood to be backed up by impressive Pakistan U19 quick Mohammad Amir Khan.

Quetta Gladiators

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Captain: Sarfaraz AhmedCoach: Moin Khan

Best finish: Champions (2019)Last season: Fifth

Squad: Sarfaraz Ahmed, Qais Ahmad, Anwar Ali, Saim Ayub, Tom Banton, Ben Cutting, Cameron Delport, Chris Gayle, Mohammad Hasnain, Arish Ali Khan, Azam Khan, Usman Khan, Zahid Mahmood, Abdul Nasir, Mohammad Nawaz, Faf du Plessis, Naseem Shah, Usman Khan Shinwari, Dale Steyn

One to watch: Tom Banton (22)

The Gladiators have an exciting bowling attack and Naseem Shah (18) stands out as a good young pick, but for the lack of batsmen in this article, Tom Banton is the player chosen to look out for. The 22-year-old Somerset man has had a tough time of it lately but can recapture his best form in PSL6. In PSL5, he had a disastrous tournament, with 74 runs across 7 innings. He also missed out on an IPL contract yesterday and isn’t in England’s touring squad of India. With James Vince and Alex Hales blistering BBL efforts not enough for a call-up, competition for a place in that England batting lineup is hard to come by. However, Banton showed glimpses of what he is capable of in the Abu Dhabi T10 and will look to kick on when the Gladiators get their campaign underway. Last year, they were the worst batting side in overs 16-20 (run rate of 8.89, compared to the highest of 11.27), so Banton will be aiming to be the man who can set the platform for the likes of Ben Cutting and Azam Khan to come in as destructive finishers.

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