Security plan for PSL 2018 final in Karachi revealed

ICMD, March 19, 2018 Sindh police and government officials on Monday unveiled the security plan for the Pakistan Super League final, to be played at Karachi's National Stadium on March 25. Addressing a media briefing, DIG Traffic Imran Yaqoob Minhas said a total of 8,500 police personnel will be deployed around the stadium for the match. Spectators will have to pass through security gates at the stadium's entrance and they will only be allowed to carry their cellphones inside the venue. Power banks will not be permitted. On the day of the match, some roads surrounding the stadium will be closed for traffic at 11am. According to the DIG, Rangers personnel will be responsible for the security inside the stadium, while police and other forces will secure the stadium from the outside. While the match is underway, the routes leading to Hassan Square and New Town and the Dalmia road will be closed for traffic. However, the roads leading to both private hospitals on the Stadium Road will remain open. Sharea Faisal and Shahrah-i-Quaideen will also remain functional throughout. Parking space will be provided in the following areas, where visitors will be provided shuttle service to travel onwards to the stadium: The ground of Federal Urdu University Hakeem Saeed park The space for Sunday Bazaar near Baitul Mukarram Mosque The Kashmir Complex ground No one will be allowed to come to the stadium on foot, the DIG Traffic said. DIG West Zulfiqar Ali Larik said the South Zone police will be deployed for the security of the hotel where the players are staying. Brigadier Shahid while addressing the briefing revealed that only Pakistan Cricket Board's vendors will set up food stalls at the venue, which has a capacity of nearly 35,000. The gates will close at 5pm and the match will start after the opening ceremony which has been scheduled for 6pm. The deputy commissioner Karachi directed the spectators arriving in cars to carry their tickets with them, as they would not be allowed to park their vehicles without the tickets. PCB official Arshah Khan said the board's staff will be on hand to guide visitors to their seats. Four VIP enclosures will be set up at the venue. Addressing the press conference, Sindh Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah said the PSL finale is a major event for the city of Karachi and all departments are on the same page to ensure it takes place smoothly. He said a shuttle service will be provided to take the visitors to and from the stadium. National Stadium Karachi (NSK) last month received an encouraging response for holding the PSL final from Inter­national Cricket Council’s foreign security consultant Reg Dickason who witnessed a full-dress security-related rehearsal by around 8,000 members of law-enforcement agencies at the venue. Karachi last hosted an international fixture back in 2009 when Sri Lanka played a Test match before the series was left incomplete after the horrific terror attack on the visiting team during the second Test in Lahore. The brazen attack halted international cricket contests in Pakistan until 2015 when Zimbabwe visited the country for a short limited-overs series in Lahore. International cricket action gradually started returning to Pakistan last year when Lahore hosted the PSL final in March and a star-studded World XI side for a three-match T20 series in September. -- Courtesy Dawn

Islamabad United qualify for PSL 2018 final

ICMD, March 18, 2018 A brutal display of power hitting by Islamabad United opener Luke Ronchi helped his side defeat Karachi Kings by eight wickets at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday and qualify for the Pakistan Super League 2018 final. The kiwi batsman scored the fastest half-century of PSL on his way to an unbeaten 39-ball 94 to move his team to within one victory of their second title triumph in three years. Both the sides were without their regular captains, with Islamabad's Misbahul Haq nursing a hand injury and Karachi's Imad Wasim recuperating from concussion. After the Kings won the toss and opted to bat first, United's Samit Patel and Mohammad Sami — both of who were rested for their defeat at the hands of Karachi in the final league match of PSL 2018 — returned to share the new ball. Their impact was instant as the start to Karachi's innings was rocky. Sami, in particular, was excellent early on, removing both Khurram Manzoor and Babar Azam in the fourth over. His catch of Manzoor off his own bowling was a superb effort and a testament of the 37-year-old pacer's fitness. Sami gave away just seven runs in his opening two-over spell. With the supremely in-from Azam gone, the pressure was on the English pairing of Joe Denly and Eoin Morgan to rebuilt the Karachi innings. With their score just 21-2 at the end of 5 overs, theirs was a doubly difficult task of not only stabilising the ship but also accelerate the run flow. But their partnership didn't last long, with Morgan, in the 9th over, planting an easy catch into the hands of United's stand-in skipper JP Duminy. Halfway through their innings, Karachi were 52-3 and in need of some major fireworks in their remaining 10 overs. Both Colin Ingram and Denly agreed, hitting a boundary each in the 11th and showing their intent. However, runs dried up again following that 11th over, with the next boundary not coming until the 15th over — at the end of which Karachi were 96-3 and going at pedestrian pace in a T20 match. The only edge they had was that Ingram and Denly were both set batsmen and perfectly placed to accelerate in the final five overs. Part-timer Hussain Talat had bowled a decent 13th over, on the basis of which he was given the 16th over as well. But this time Ingram treated him with two 6s, which was just what Karachi needed at the time. Denly completed his half-century in the 18th over, hitting a straight 6 to Faheem Ashraf. But unfortunately, he was out hit wicket the very next ball as Karachi's hopes of conjuring up a 160 plus total were dented. Sami bowled a decent 17th before Ingram, on the final ball of the 18th, hit an excellent improvised shot to beat the third man fielder, bringing up his 50 in the process. The express bowler out of Karachi was again extremely difficult to hit in his last and the innings' 19th over, finishing with figures of 20-2. The usually reliable Ashraf had a rare off day with the ball; his and the innings' final over went for 17 runs as he finished with figures of 53-1. Ingram's unbeaten 39-ball 68 helped Karachi to a decent, if not spectacular, 154-4. Both Patel and Sami were excellent with the ball for United. Another player who was not risked for Karachi's win over United on Sunday was the hard-hitting Luke Ronchi. In his absence, United's top order had suffered a rare bad day — a major reason the Kings made the play-offs. This time, Ronchi was playing and doing what he does best. The opening over of Mohammad Amir went for 14 and featured three Ronchi boundaries. In-form Usman Shinwari's second was a quiet one before Ronchi rattled Tymal Mills with a trio of boundaries in the third. With Amir and Mills' opening overs conceding three boundaries each, the ball was tossed to Shahid Afridi to try his luck. It changed nothing as Ronchi smashed three boundaries in the leggie's first over. Ronchi hit two consecutive sixes in the 5th over, completing the fastest 50 of PSL history. His record half-century took just 19 balls. By the end of the 5th over, Islamabad were a staggering 69-0 and had all but ended the encounter. Karachi bowlers' nightmare start was not helped by three dropped catches — two of which were offered by Ronchi. With runs flowing and pressure gone, the young Sahibzada Farhan, who had an underwhelming PSL 2018, played a couple pretty looking strokes of his own. Farhan (29 off 18) departed on the final ball of the 7th over, by which time United were 91-1. But Ronchi was simply in a class of his own, giving zero respect to anyone who dared hurl the ball at him. He welcomed Mohammad Irfan Jr with three consecutive boundaries. Halfway through their innings, Islamabad were 124-1 and in need of a paltry 31 runs to qualify for their second PSL final in three years. Ronchi's rampage and the Kings' suffering wan't over just yet. His unbeaten 39-ball 94-run innings, which featured 12 boundaries and five maximums, finally came to an end when there were no more runs to chase. Islamabad United reached their target with 8 wickets and 45 balls to spare. Yes, you read that right. -- Courtesy DN

Dazzling Kamran Akmal leads Peshawar Zalmi into playoffs

ICMD, March 17, 2018 A brilliant hundred by Kamran Akmal steered Peshawar Zalmi into the playoffs of the third edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) at Sharjah Stadium here Friday, leaving the fate of Karachi Kings and Multan Sultans hanging in the air. In the must-win game against Lahore Qalandars yesterday, player-of-the-match Kamran brought up the first century of this season off 59 balls to help his team chase down 173 with 12 balls and 7 wickets remaining. In arguably the most memorable performance of this PSL so far, Kamran remained not out at 107 off 61 balls. His century included 11 fours and 7 sixes, and has made him the highest scorer of this season, ahead of Quetta Gladiators’ Shane Watson. Peshawar showed no mercy to Lahore’s bowlers from the start, stealing 20 runs off the very first over. Opener Riki Wessels was bowled by PSL debutant Kyle Abbott in the second over of the innings. Dwayne Smith failed to click and was bowled by Yasir Shah for 14. But Kamran was unstoppable as he reached his hundred with a powerful four. For Lahore, Yasir Shah managed two wickets, and Abbott took one. Earlier, a fiery 70 by Anton Devcich lifted Lahore to 172-4. Had it not been for Kamran’s numbing assault, Devcich could have possibly emerged the match-winner for Lahore with his 42-ball knock, which included two fours and seven sixes. While admittedly a chancy effort, Devcich struck some mighty blows when he wasn’t using the pace to deflect the ball to the shorter boundary on the leg-side. After Devcich departed in the 15th over, Sohail Akhtar, who smashed an unbeaten 30 off 16 balls, and Gulraiz Sadaf (26 not out off 21 balls) helped Lahore sustain the momentum, as they amassed 52 runs in the last five overs. All that would ultimately prove futile. Hasan Ali took 2 wickets for 24, while Wahab Riaz and Sameen Gul took one each. Brief scores: Peshawar Zalmi 176 for 3 (Kamran Akmal 107 not out) beat Lahore Qalandars 172 for 4 (Anton Devcich 70, Sohail Akhtar 30 not out) by seven wickets.

PSL 2018 final tickets to go on sale tonight

ICMD. March 14, 2018 The tickets for the final of the Pakistan Super League 2018 are set to go on sale at and selected TCS Express Centers from midnight tonight, has learnt. The final of Pakistan Cricket Board's flagship T20 tournament will be held at the National Stadium Karachi on March 25 and the responsibility of ticket sale has been entrusted to TCS. "Tickets will go on sale from March 15, 2018, both on and TCS Express Centers," the courier service's Head of Corporate Communication, Muhammad Rahat Hussain told "The tickets will be available at 78 TCS express centres in Karachi, Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Raiwind, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Hyderabad. Details of the locations of these TCS Express Centers are available on the website." "Due to security reasons, there is a maximum cap of five tickets per CNIC and buyers will have to be present with their original CNICs at the time of making the purchase." Once the tickets are made available for purchase, aspiring stadium goers will be able to choose from tickets ranging from Rs1,000, Rs4,000, Rs8,000 and Rs12,000. “We are confident that we will facilitate cricket fans by offering smooth and hassle-free delivery and sale of tickets to let them enjoy thrilling moments of the PSL Final in Karachi.” The courier service's Director Marketing & Public Affairs, Naiyar M. Saifi, added: “We are confident that we will facilitate cricket fans by offering smooth and hassle-free delivery and sale of tickets to let them enjoy thrilling moments of the PSL Final in Karachi.” PCB has also entrusted TCS with carrying the PSL Trophy from UAE to Karachi. PCB Chairman Najam Sethi earlier handed over the trophy to TCS management in a ceremony in Dubai Sports City. The tickets for the two eliminators are already available online and at TCS Express Centers.

Lahore Qalandars edge out Karachi Kings in one of the greatest T20 matches ever

ICMD, March 11, 2018 Lahore Qalandars won the toss and opted to field first in the 24th fixture of the Pakistan Super League 2018 in Dubai on Sunday. They say if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The two teams did just that, keeping faith with the same line-ups that helped them get the W in their respective previous outings. Captain Brendon McCullum's peculiar choice for opening the bowling continued as this time he tossed the ball to Anton Devcich. Within a few minutes it proved to be the wrong decision as Lendl Simmons cracked three 4s off the kiwi spinner's bowling in the opening over. His partner, Joe Denly, who played a 78-run knock in the Kings' win over the Sultans last time out, couldn't do the same this time and was out early; Yasir Shah picked up his wicket. Shah almost had Babar Azam dismissed the very next ball, only for the young Shaheen Shah Afridi to drop the most simplest of catches. The gaffe would not go unpunished as Azam and Simmons' partnership blossomed, with the latter in particular looking in the mood for a big score. By the end of 5 overs, the Kings were 36-1. With the run rate on the lower side, the pairing sped up things; Azam hit two boundaries in the 6th over and Simmons smacked three of his own in the next. ings still had a more-than-decent 85 after 10 overs and had nine wicket intact. Simmons, meanwhile, brought up his half century. Narine, however, bowled a tight 11th, putting pressure to accelerate on Simmons (39-ball 55), who holed out to McClenaghan at long-on in the next over. Most teams in PSL 2018 have been surprisingly good in the field, but then the Qalandars are not most teams; Sohail Khan dropped Colin Ingram's catch in the 14 over, at the end of which the Kings were 105-2. Narine bowled another tight over in the 15th, leaving the Kings 109-2 and in need for a late spurt of runs. The young Afridi was excellent in the last game but not so much here as his second, the innings' 16th, went for 14 runs and featured three boundaries. Sohail removed Ingram in the 16th but was smashed for a six the very next ball by Azam, who brought up his third fifty in four PSL matches with that stroke. Having scored a 49-ball 61, Azam departed in the 19th over. That set the stage for a rare Afridi versus Afridi battle as in walked the veteran Shahid Afridi to face his namesake: Shaheen Shah Afridi. The older Afridi copped some criticism for his animated celebration after dismissing the 19-year-old Saif Badar in the last game. And he continued his teenage-bashing ways, hitting the 17-year-old Shaheen for a huge six the first ball he faced. However, the youngster instantly avenged himself as well as Badar, bowling out Boom Boom the next ball. Unlike the older Afridi, however, the younger one refused to celebrate his wicket out of respect. In the end, the Kings finished with 163 runs for the loss of 5 wickets. For the Qalandars, Anton Devcich once again looked in great touch early on as he smacked five fours in his 14-ball stay, contributing 24 runs before Mohammad Irfan Jr bowled him out with a delivery that should've instead been launched for six. Agha Salman joined the party, cracking two excellent boundaries off Irfan Jr deliveries. By the end of 5 overs, the Qalandars were 41-1, with the match equally poised. The pair batted responsibly for the next five overs, taking their team 82-1 at the halfway mark. In between, Fakhar Zaman treated Irfan Jr an Afridi with a few of his personal favourite shots. Usually, the Qalandars wickets tumble pretty regularly but they weren't this time — much to the dismay of the Kings. Their annoyance was finally remedied by their captain Imad Wasim in the 12th over. Zaman, for some reason, tried hitting a ball pitched way outside the off stump to the long-on boundary and paid the price. Watch out for Imad's Cristiano Ronaldo celebration. Agha Salman top-edged a Wasim delivery in the 15th over but it had enough behind him to sail over the boundary. By the end of that over, the Qalandars were 114-3, needing 50 more off 30 balls. Irfan's 16th leaked 13 runs and swung the match in Lahore's favour but Amir reciprocated by conceding just 3 in the 17th as the match once again hung in balance. McCullum ramped an Usman Shinwari ball for a six in the 18th but Salman's (50 off 45) attempt to clear the boundary in the same over had him caught at the boundary; Babar Azam and Simmons combined for a wonderful effort. In the next four balls, McCullum and Sohail Khan departed as the Kings were back on top and Lahore once again staring at a defeat. Off the final over, they needed 16 to win with McClenaghan and Sohail Akhtar in the middle. When all seemed lost, Akhtar turned the game on its head, hitting a four and six to bring Lahore back into the match. But as they always do, the Qalandars faltered when in control, with McCleneghan departing the next ball. One run later, Gulraiz Sadaf was off the strike and Akhtar tasked with getting his side over the line. With three needed off the last ball, Akhtar slogged but only found the long-on fielder. The Kings were beginning to start their celebration when the camera spotted that Usman had overstepped. Lots of confusion, discussion and replays later, the revised ask for the Qalandars was two runs off one ball. Usman bowled it right in the block hold, allowing just a single as it came down to PSL 2018's second super over to find the winner between the two. The super over started off horribly for the Qalandars, who lost Zaman on the first ball and managed to hit just a solitary boundary off Amir, setting a modest 12-run target for the Kings. Last time McCullum was in this situation he had tossed the ball to Mustafizur Rahman — a decision that in hindsight proved horribly wrong. This time, however, he learned from that error, picking Narine to ball the final six balls. Narine bowled a tight line, confusing the Karachi batters with his variations, giving just one run and also picking a wicket off the first five balls. Afridi smacked him for a six on the final ball but it was too little too late. Lahore had won a match they should have won a lot easily and a lot earlier. Agha Salman was named the man of the match. -- Share Story

Newcomers Sultans thrash Peshawar Zalmi by 7 wickets in PSL 2018 opener

ICMD, Feb 22, 2018 Multan Sultans sent shockwaves through the Pakistan Super League on Thursday by inflicting a seven-wicket defeat on reigning champions Peshawar Zalmi in the opening encounter of the tournament's 2018 edition in Dubai. The Sultans were wobbled at the start of their innings when they lost opener Ahmed Shehzad for a duck in pursuit of the 152-run target set by Peshawar Zalmi. Following that early setback, Kumar Sangakkara stabilised the ship as Sohaib Maqsood went on the offensive, pulling Hammad Azam for a six. After seven overs, Zalmi introduced 19-year-old leg-spinner Ibtisam Sheikh into the attack, hoping for a breakthrough. The youngster impressed in his first over but the breakthrough that the champions needed was provided from the other end by left-arm spinner Mohammad Asghar. Maqsood came down the track, took needless risk and ended up throwing away his wicket like he used to playing for Pakistan. Sangakkara, meanwhile, kept on doing what he did throughout his international career, picking singles and doubles to go with an odd boundary here and there — playing the classic anchorman role. Sangakkara brought up his fifty and his team's 100 with a flick over fine leg against the bowling of Sammy. The breakthrough that the defending champions needed finally came in the 15th over when Riaz had Sangakkara caught behind. The Sri Lankan maestro departed with 57 runs to his name off 51 deliveries. The Zalmi bowlers were unable to find any more success against the Sultans batters as Malik added 42, which featured a match-winning six at the end to make sure his side got the win. Former Karachi Kings batsman Pollard also chipped in with 21 runs. In the match's opening innings, Zalmi had a quiet first over as Sultans' fast bowler Sohail Tanvir bowled a pretty tight line and length, not allowing the Zalmi batters any room to free up their arms. Tamim Iqbal survived a major appeal in the second over but Kamran Akmal was not that fortunate as he skied a Mohammad Irfan delivery, with Hardus Viljoen accepting the catch. West Indian Dwayne Smith struck the first boundary of the PSL 2018 off the bowling of Tanvir in the third over. A view from the stands during the Zalmi-Sultans encounter Iqbal struck a few boundaries of his own before giving his wicket to the towering Irfan. But more than the wicket it was the catch that caught the eye as Junaid Khan sprinted in from fine leg and dived full length to accept what could be an early contender for the catch of the tournament. Smith also hit the first six of the PSL 2018, dispatching Imran Tahir over long on for a maximum in the eighth over. By the tenth over, Zalmi had 57 runs on the board for the loss of two wickets with Smith and Mohammad Hafeez in the middle. In his attempt to accelerate the scoring, Smith paid the price as Tahir opened his account for the tournament. Hafeez was then joined at the crease by Harris Sohail, who gave an account of his hitting abilities with a maximum straight over the bowler's head. However, the southpaw couldn't stick with Hafeez for too long as he was removed by Viljoen. Hafeez completed his half century in the 18th over with a boundary, although it was a bit on the slower side, which put the rest of the batsmen under pressure. The 18th over was that big one Zalmi had been searching for a while as it leaked 21 runs, with Sammy hitting Tanvir for back-to-back sixes. Hafeez departed in what could be described as a soft dismissal, making way for Hammad Azam. Sammy's six-laden cameo at the end made sure Zalmi finished with 151 on the board for the loss of 6 wickets. "After we lost early wickets our plan was to get a decent total on the board," said Hafeez during the innings break. He attributed his team's struggles with the 'surprising grass on the pitch'. Multan Sultans line-up: Kumar Sangakkara, Ahmed Shehzad, Shoaib Malik, Kieron Pollard, Sohaib Maqsood, Said Badar, Sohail Tanvir, Hardus Viljoen, Mohammad Irfan, Imran Tahir, Junaid Khan. Peshawar Zalmi line-up: Kamran Akmal, Tamim Iqbal, Dwayne Smith, Mohammad Hafeez, Harris Sohail, Hammad Azam, Darren Sammy, Chris Jordan, Wahab Riaz, Ibtisam Sheikh, Mohammad Asghar.

PSL 2018 Team Preview

ICMD, Feb 20, 2018 Pakistan Super League (PSL) is set to kick-off on Thursday as six teams would lock-horns against one another to battle for this year’s ultimate prize. Here is a preview of the participants, their strengths, weakness and chances. Multan Sultans – 5 stars The debutants from City of the Saints look stacked on all ends. Multan Sultans, convened by veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik and mentored by the Sultan of Swing himself, Wasim Akram, have been making a lot of noise in both mainstream and social media. The city did not feature in last two editions of Pakistan’s biggest cricketing Mela, but they have managed to cherry-pick some of the very best names in the business. Multan’s star-studded unit includes captain Shoaib Malik, vice-captain Kieron Pollard, Thisara Parera, Ahmed Shehzad, Imran Tahir, Darren Bravo, Sohail Tanvir, Junaid Khan, Kumar Sangakkara, Umar Gul, Mohammad Irfan among others. The team appears exciting and expectations obviously are high. Sultans have a batting line-up which calls for fireworks, and on top of that, they have very reliant balling weaponry available at their arsenal making Multan an explosive, experienced and a balanced squad. On paper, there is no stronger team that the aforementioned, but since games are not won on paper, let’s not just get carried away with stardom. Quetta Gladiators – 4.5 stars Another team that promises an exciting PSL season: Quetta Gladiators, finalists of the league’s first and second edition, look better than ever after luring veterans of the game during season 3 draft. The team from Balochistan has enjoyed more success than any other franchise in previous two editions with a win-percentage of 63. The addition of Shane Watson and Afghan spin-wizard Rashid Khan has given the Quetta faithful a lot to cheer about. Moreover, Kevin Pietersen, Jason Roy, Bangladesh’s powerhouse Mahmudullah Riyad and Asad Shafiq with Sarfaraz Ahmed pulling the strings guarantees another promising year for the Gladiators. Hopefully, this time around, the team’s foreign stars would not desert the squad if the franchise qualifies for the knockouts. Last year, all buzz was buried when Kevin Pietersen, Luke Wright and others opted to quit the team since they would not prefer a visit to Pakistan. The team, however, looks up and ready for another successful year in the PSL and cricket fans countrywide expect big things from the purple knights. Will they be third-time lucky? Peshawar Zalmi – 4.5 stars Albeit Shahid Afridi parted ways with his cousin-owned franchise from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the team still looks solid on paper. The defending champions, for a second year running, will be captained by Darren Sammy, who enjoys public support like any other Pakistani cricketer, or perhaps maybe more. The more prominent names from the Zalmis include Darren Sammy, Muhammad Hafeez, Hasan Ali, Kamran Akmal, Wahab Riaz, Chris Jordan, Andre Fletcher, Shakib Al Hassan and Tamim Iqbal. The Peshawar squad is stacked. Moreover, the team has the heartthrob of Pakistan film industry Hamza Ali Abbasi and the stunning Mahira Khan as its ambassadors. Although, the two might not help much when it comes to cricket, they do, however, gift Peshawar with a cutting edge over other franchises as far as marketing is concerned. Karachi Kings – 4 stars ‘Home is where the heart is’, they say, and it proved true in Shahid Afridi’s case. After spending two seasons at his cousin, Javed Afridi’s Peshawar Zalmi, Pakistan cricket’s superstar decided to switch cities. He decided to make to move to Karachi, a place he regards as his home. Lala has been living in Karachi since he was a kid and it is reason why he joined the Kings. Contrary to the previous editions, Karachi looks more solid than ever. They have a well-rounded starting eleven including Afridi himself, Muhammad Amir, Babar Azam, Imad Wasim, Eoin Morgan, Lendl Simmons, David Wiese, Tymal Mills and season one MVP Ravi Bopara. The team had underperformed in Shoaib Malik’s guardianship, but now that Karachi has brought in the most popular cricket in Pakistan, and possibly around the globe, improvements are certain. Do not be surprised if Afridi leads his team to their first and his personal second PSL prize. Lahore Qalandars – 3.5 stars For a city that eats, sleeps and breathes cricket, Lahore has failed to live up to expectations. Finishing bottom of the table for two seasons running is far from an achievement for the city, and it seems as if the future of Qalandars does not seem very bright either. In previous two editions, Lahore had a woeful balling line-up. Batting wise, the team was not superior to other partakers either. This year around, however, the team has made some promising changes in their balling department. Bangladesh’s young starlet Mustafizur Rehman and New Zealand’s Mitchell McClenaghan provide the much needed trickery, while Sohail Khan’s signing guarantees good performances this year around. Batting wise, the team is similar to a coin toss. With skipper Brendan McCullum, Fakhar Zaman and Umar Akmal at top of the order, it’s either a master blaster performance or a quick walk back to the pavilion. There’s hardly an in-between. Moreover, Chris Lynn and Cameron Delport are decent players, but they do lack experience at the top level. One might not expect Lahore to dominate and annihilate opponents, but it’s safe to say that this seasons calls for improvements and they will be seen. Islamabad United – 3.5 stars In comparison to the aforementioned teams, Islamabad United, unfortunately, does not possess the sheen this edition. The team not only let a key player in Shane Watson slip away, it also saw mentor and coach in legendary Wasim Akram join hands with the newcomers, Multan Sultans. But despite the pre-season slip-ups, and despite the shortage of plenty of mainstream stars, United have a competitive team under the leader of Misbah-ul-Haq. JP Duminy, Steven Finn, Andre Russel and Muhammad Sami have a responsibility as seniors, while Rumman Raees, Shadab Khan, Alex Hales and Faheem Ashraf promise energy and enthusiasm to the ranks. The team, is a clear underdog this time around, but how often has Misbah faced such a situation? and how often has he produced results? Islamabad United are not the most popular or lethal on paper, but they have experience in their ranks and having already won the competition once, they must know a way out, up and above. -- DT

PSL 2018 trophy unveiled by franchise captains in Dubai

ICMD, Feb 20, 2018 The trophy for the third season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) starting Feb 22 was jointly unveiled by the captains of each of the PSL franchises at a ceremony held in Dubai on Tuesday. The unveiling ceremony was accompanied by a press conference that PSL chief Najam Sethi along with Darren Sammy, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Brendon McCullum, Misbah-ul-Haq and Sarfraz Ahmed, will address. Each of those present were given an opportunity to say a few words, starting with Sethi, who thanked Swarovski for making the trophy, and introduced each of the cricketers present at the dais alongside him. Praising Karachi Kings skipper Imad Wasim, Sethi said, "He is one of the most talented players. Handing him captaincy of the Karachi Kings is an excellent opportunity. He is the youngest captain here. If the Kings win under Imad, he will be planted firmly in my crosshairs," Sethi joked. Sethi gave Sarfraz Ahmed, skipper of both the Quetta Gladiators and the national cricket team, his vote of confidence: "If someone can lead the Green Shirts, they can lead any side in the world." Each of the cricketers addressed the event by turn, starting with Shahid Afridi. "Najam Sethi has done a great thing by holding PSL. It was a challenge and he took it on," he stated. Defending champions, Peshawar Zalmi's captain, Darren Sammy gave his best to all the other captains. "They are coming for my title," he joked. "I hope the tournament becomes more successful. I hope my team is still in the running when we get to Karachi [for the final]." Islamabad United captain Misbahul Haq thanked Sethi for his praise. "I think the last two years [of PSL] were wonderful. We enjoyed the competition, it keeps getting tougher with every season," he said. Brendon McCullum, captain of the Lahore Qalandars, thanked the sponsors and the Pakistan Cricket Board for their hand in the organisation of the PSL. "I couldn't think of a better bunch to play against. You are an amazing country and you've done great things for cricket. I can't guarantee success, but we will try our best." Sarfraz, who was introduced amid loud applause, also thanked the sponsors. "I hope this season goes as well as the last two. I hope to win this series in our home city of Karachi," he said. Shoaib Malik, captain of the new franchise Multan Sultans, appreciated Sethi's conception and execution of the PSL. "It's a great sign for Pakistani cricket. The team owners, sponsors and media have played a remarkable role," he said. Sethi also appreciated the Sultans. "Possibly the biggest leap forward has been the inclusion of the Multan Sultans. They have paid through their pocket to be a part of this. It has been an extraordinary gesture on their part." The third season of the PSL will kick off in Dubai on Thursday with a star-studded ceremony headlined by the legendary Sufi singer Abida Parveen and American pop star Jason Derulo. Pakistani heartthrobs Ali Zafar and Shahzad Roy will also be entertaining fans at the event. The tournament opener featuring defending champions Peshawar Zalmi and new entrants Multan Sultans will take place the same night at 10pm in Dubai. A total of 34 matches will be played across different venues in Dubai, Sharjah, and Lahore. The final is to be held at Karachi’s National Stadium on March 25, according to the PSL schedule. During the season, all teams will play against each other twice before the top four teams qualify for the play-off stage. -- ICMD/Dawn