Lahore Qalandars have a miserable Pakistan Super League record and finished bottom of the pile for the fourth year running last year as their players once again failed to live up to expectations.
The Lahore outfit have tried several different tactics and formulas over the years but nothing seems to have worked for them so far.
The 33-year-old Sohail Akhtar will be their seventh captain in five campaigns — a tally higher than any other team’s — as they look to reach the playoffs for the first time.
Nepal’s spin sensation Sandeep Lamichhane was Lahore’s standout performer last year and the side are sure to feel his absence this year. Lamichhane picked up 11 wickets in seven matches at an average of 17.17 and an economy of 7.66, and provided several important breakthroughs for his side.
Coach AqibJavedcan call upon the experience of two-time champion Samit Patel and Sri Lanka’s SeekkugePrasanna but neither possess the magic that the Nepalese teenager has at his fingertips.
The loss of AB de Villiers is also going to be a worry for the Punjab side after he opted to sit out this year’s PSL. The South African star, one of the finest T20 players in history, had the best average of any player in the side last year and was the team’s third-highest scorer despite missing three games.
The bottom team losing their best batsman and best bowler isn’t a great sign but Lahore might be a more balanced side than they were 12 months ago. Their over-reliance on certain big hitters has always come back to haunt them and maybe the thinking this time around is to have everyone contribute a little rather than banking on a few players.
The decision to let Rahat Ali go to Quetta seems a little surprising considering the success he had for them last year but they have brought in Usman Khan Shinwari from Karachi Kings.
In Shinwari and Shaheen Shah Afridi, Lahore possess two of the most lethal bowlers in the entire country and can provide the wickets Lahore will surely require with the new ball. Along with HarisRauf — who caught the eye last year with his pace, yorkers and slower deliveries — Lahore have a trio of local pacers who have not only delivered in the PSL before but also have intimate knowledge of the conditions at home.
Qalandars might also have the most destructive opening duo with the bat as well after picking the explosive Chris Lynn as their first Platinum pick. The Australian bludgeoner can do some serious damage at the top of the innings alongside Fakhar Zaman, while West Indies’ Lendl Simmons is also available.
Lahore have the arsenal to completely take the game away from any side in the first six over of both innings and that alone means they cannot be taken lightly this year.
Muhammad Hafeez and David Wiese can provide the fireworks at the latter parts of the innings too while also providing the side with extra bowling options and a lot of T20 experience.
Local pacers who know conditions well
Experience in the middle-order
Weight of history
Lack of quality spinner