Side’s batting attack looks much more ominous than their bowling
Islamabad United are the most successful side in the Pakistan Super League and it comes as no surprise that they are eager to keep the same core of players that has helped them win two of the four editions so far.
The side from the capital have made a few interesting tweaks though as they look to improve on last year’s third place finish, with the inclusion of legendary South African pacer Dale Steyn being the most notableof the lot.
At 36, Steyn is no longer the express pacer he once was and his injury troubles mean he is a risky pick.
However, Islamabad have put a lot of their eggs in the Steyn-shaped basket because the remainder of their pace attack might be the weakest of the lot.
Musa Khan might be a star in the making but he is still just 19 and he has shown nothing more than the occasional glimpse of his talent so far.
Rumman Raees is plagued by injury issues and hasn’t played at the top level for some time now, while Faheem Ashraf — who was their top wicket-taker last year with 21 — has been poor ever since the last PSL.
Shadab Khan, who is likely to captain the side this edition after being Muhammad Sami’s deputy in the previous one, has also had a woeful 2019 and Islamabad will need him to step up if they are to compete for the title once again.
It isn’t all doom and gloom though, with Amad Butt and HussainTalat — two integral all-rounders who provide a lot of balance to the side — contributed with both bat and ball for their respective sides in this year’s National T20.
The two-time champions may also boast the most formidable list of foreign batsmen. Colin Munro may have had a nightmare in PSL 4 but remains the fourth best T20I batsman in the world and is certainly one of the most destructive around. The ball will come onto the bat much more nicely in Pakistan as compared to the UAE and Munro might be a completely different beast in such conditions.
Munro will have more than able company at the top of the order alongside compatriot Luke Ronchi and the two can virtually end matches within the first six overs if they aren’t dismissed quickly.
New coach Misbah-ul-Haq can also call upon the South African duo of Colin Ingram and Rassie van der Dussen in the middle-order but will have to choose wisely with only four international players allowed in the first eleven.
Ingram was Karachi Kings’ top-scorer last year and scored one of the finest centuries in PSL history last year, while Van Der Dussenis South Africa’s standout batsmen in the limited overs circuit. Both batsmen are capable of anchoring the innings in case of a top-order collapse as well as clearing the boundary when quick runs are required.
Misbah might be under as much scrutiny as any player, especially considering his struggles in his new role at the international level, and the Pakistan Cricket Board are hoping he can gain some invaluable experience. However, a poor campaign may further increase pressure on the already beleaguered coach.