HBL PSL 2021 will be held entirely in Pakistan
Now that the Pakistan Cricket Board has confirmed a start date for the PSL for the 20th February, the teams have begun to get to work preparing their teams for action. Perhaps one of the most significant moves made is that of the former Pakistan Super League champions, the Quetta Gladiator. They have signed one of the best T20 bowlers of all time Umar Gul as their new bowling coach, who replaces legendary all-rounded Abdur Razzaq. Umar knows Quetta very well, having played for the Gladiators in the first two seasons of the PSL, so it will feel like a homecoming for him.
Karachi Kings will kick-start the 2021 edition of the Pakistan Super League as the defending champion after defeating Lahore Qalandars in the final. They will face Quetta Gladiators in the opening match. Lahore and Karachi will be the host cities for the sixth PSL season.
The draft for the 2021 edition of the PSL concluded on the 10th of January, and there were some big players picked by the six franchises. Each team must have a minimum of 16 players in their squad and a maximum of 18. This will consist of five to six foreign players and 11 to 12 local players. The starting elevens must include a minimum of three foreign players, up to a maximum of four.
There were some real movers and shakers in the draft, as each team fought to build the best squads possible. Here we will summarise the most significant moves made by each team:
Peshawar Zalmi: The biggest shock was that they released their leading fast bowler from last season Hassan Ali. They also released Carlos Braithwaite, Kieron Pollard, and Tom Banton as they look to take a more ‘homegrown’ approach this season.
Karachi Kings: The defending champions retained the core of their team from last year, and why wouldn’t they? They traded Colin Ingram for Alex Hales with Islamabad, which is a big call as we struggle to know who got the better of the deal; only time will tell. They did, however, release Chris Jordan, which is presumably down to Jordan’s commitments elsewhere.
Lahore Qalandars: The two biggest deals for Lahore were acquiring Ben Dunk and Mohammed Hafeez. They released the big-hitting Chris Lynn, which could be significant.
Multan Sultans: The Sultans retained Shahid Afridi and Rilee Rossouw while picking up Imran Tahir, who will take up a mentoring role. They also have James Vince, who would be a plus for any side in the league. English pair Moeen Ali and veteran Ravi Bopara have both been released.
Quetta Gladiators: The most significant move for the Gladiators squad is that of T20 powerhouse Ben Cutting who brings a wealth of experience to the team. However, Jason Roy is, unfortunately, unavailable and will be a significant loss for them. His English compatriot Tymall Mills is also unavailable as the Gladiators have been hit hard.
Islamabad United: As previously mentioned, they have acquired Alex Hales to open the batting for them, and New Zealand all-rounder Colin Munro will back him up. They have released T20 legend Dale Steyn, and Luke Ronchi is unavailable due to coaching duties in New Zealand. So while they have lost a lot of experience, they have certainly added some extraordinary ability, which will stand them in good stead this season.
Karachi will undoubtedly be hard to dethrone this year; however, the Sultans look good, and they will look to build on last season, where they topped the table at the end of the regular season, only to fail in the playoffs. It easily could have been them that were champions as they lost a super over match against the eventual winners Karachi in the first eliminator. Last seasons losing finalists, Lahore, has probably done the least amount of business and perhaps have rested on their laurels too much. We believe Islamabad has made great strides as they look to improve on the previous season’s last-place finish. One thing is for sure, and that is, there will be lots of drama and an abundance of fantastic cricket.
Some of the most significant absentees that were not picked up in the draft are Ahmed Shehzad, who is the only Pakistan batsman to score a century in all three formats of the game, pace bowler Junaid Khan, spinner Umer Khan, and Abdullah Shafique.
However, now that the teams are finalised, they can get the wheels in motion to plan and strategise their route to winning this year’s tournament.
The HBL PSL cricket league has put the cricket action from the country back on the map. Boasting of international players and a league like format, the tournament took place in three stages, which was played in Dubai, Sharjah and Pakistan. The teams representing 6 major cities – Peshawar, Quetta, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Multan will take part in the competition.