Defending champions boast exciting but inexperienced pace attack
Quetta Gladiators had come agonizingly close the Pakistan Super League title several times before finally winning it last year and the champions will be looking to become the first team to successfully defend their title.
The addition of Jason Roy — the most sought-after player in the draft pick — makes them an even more frightening prospect at the top of the order but the side does seem to be lacking in a few key areas.
Australian veteran Shane Watson was the league’s top-scorer with 430 runs and the man of the tournament as he guided Quetta to victory but the right-hander isn’t getting any younger at 38, even though he has impressed in bits during the T10 league.
Opener Ahmed Shehzad, who had a good PSL 4, might find himself demoted down the order but will be looking to impress once again after finishing with 311 runs at an average of 51.83 last year.
The champions might miss the late power of RileeRossouw though after the South African was allowed to leave for Multan Sultans. Rossouw was the side’s third highest scorer last year and played several crucial knocks in the second half of their innings.
The left-hander’s departure means there is added responsibility on Umar Akmal as he will be charged with the responsibility of finding the boundary during the latter part of the innings.
Skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed, meanwhile, has a point to prove as a captain and as a batsman after being dropped from the international side but the glovesman has never been a big hitter of the cricket ball.
Australia’s Ben Cutting might play the Anwar Ali role — bowling a few overs here and there and playing the occasional cameo with the bat at the death.
Sarfaraz has an exciting, if risky, bowling attack at his disposal and the decision to let Sohail Tanvir leave might prove to be a foolish one.
Tanvir is a veteran of the shortest format and was Quetta’s top wicket-taker last year as he claimed 15 at an average of 21.73 and an economy of less than seven an over.
His experience could have been vital in guiding a bowling attack that boasts three of the brightest pace prospects in world cricket at the moment.
Pakistan’s 19-year-old Mohammad Hasnain and 16-year-old Naseem Shah can line-up alongside 21-year-old West Indies international Keemo Paul.
Their relatively young age might tempt Sarfaraz to pick Englishman Tymal Mills, who impressed two years ago for Quetta with his canny slower deliveries and perfect yorkers.
Sarfaraz’s use of spinners is almost unparalleled and he builds a lot of his T20 success on them. It comes as no surprise then that last year’s spinners — left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz and leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed — are both once again part of the squad.
Fawad suffered a horrific blow to his mouth but was impressive before that, while Nawaz seems to save his best for the Quetta Gladiators.
Dangerous top order
Exciting young pacers
Lack of middle-order hitters
Missing experienced pacers