The defending champions have most most definitely become much weaker after the last two seasons with some very strange decision making in the drafts, however I am not a professional cricketer so cannot comment too much. Captained by Darren Sammy is the major positive of this team right now as he seems to be able to get the best out of any team that he captains.
Retained players: Mohammad Hafeez, Wahab Riaz, Shakib al Hasan, Kamran Akmal, Darren Sammy, Hasan Ali, Haris Sohail, Chris Jordan, Mohammad Asghar
Players picked in the draft: Dwayne Bravo, Tamim Iqbal, Hammad Azam, Saad Nasim, Taimoor Sultan, Sameen Gul, Ibtisam Sheikh
Supplementary players: Andre Fletcher, Rikki Wessels (replaced Evin Lewis), Khalid Usman, Muhammad Arif
Emerging category players: Khushdil Shah
Player Covers: Liam Dawson (cover for Shakib al Hasan), Umaid Asif (cover for Hasan Ali)
On paper it looks like a very balanced squad with a large number of all rounders, probably the most of any team in the competition however regardless of quantity some of them severely lack in quality while others have not played many T20 matches to warrant any hype.
1. Tamim Iqbal & Shakib Al Hasan: Two players who are used to the conditions the UAE has to offer so it should be not a surprise to many if they succeed, it will help the Zalmi charge but the downside is they are available for only 5 games out of 10 in the group stages. Therefore important that they perform while they are with the team.
2. Kamran Akmal, Muhammad Asghar and Khushdil Shah Domestic Forms: Both of the batsmen go into this tournament with impressive domestic form in the T20 and LA competitions. Zalmi will need both of these to fire up the order if they are to put up imposing totals. Muhammad Asghar has been one of the best spinners in the domestic circuit this season picking up plenty of wickets out of the 3 domestic competitions played so on merit alone should be one of the first names on that sheet.
Asghar :35 Wickets
Khushdil :783 Runs
Kamran: 1050 Runs
3. Haris Sohail Fitness: Looks back to full fitness now and still maintain he is one of the best young batsmen in Pakistan who does not need specific conditions to play well. Zalmi will need to see the T20 form that brought him limelight all those years ago for Sialkot Stallions.
4. Darren Sammy: Specialist captain who can also give the ball a bit of a whack lower down the order. If he can get this team to gel they may very well do wonders once again.
5. Hammad Azam: Expecting him to finally revive his career, it is the best chance he will ever get with age still on his side. On talent alone a far superior batsman to Fahim, Yamin, Anwar and Bhatti. One of Younis Khans favourite players so hopefully spending some time with him will make Hammad a much better cricketer.
6. Liam Dawson: Although a replacement for when Shakib leaves, a very exciting batting talent with the ability to play big innings and fast. Afridi recently remarked that "Dawsi is my favourite player in England" when they played alongside each other in the T10 league where he was easily one of the stand out players for Pakhtoons taking the pace bowlers for a lot of runs. In particular ending Sami after just one game which resulted him being dropped for the rest of the tournament.
7. Rikki Wessels the late replacement for Evin Lewis was the second top scorer in last years Natwest T20 Blast with a massive 559 runs in the tournament striking at 150. Will he be able to carry this form on in the PSL?
1. Too many players will be playing limited games with Peshawar Zalmi or initial selections have all been called up for internationals. Replacements such as Rikki Wessels, Dwayne Smith, Liam Dawson can certainly hit the ball out of the park but chopping and changing the team so much can be very detrimental especially if you need wins. All very talented players but it is the frequency of changes that could most certainly be negative for Zalmi as they will look for continuity if the results are not going their way.
2.Unknown players that have not played many T20 and if they have their numbers are not impressive at all. Ibtasim Sheikh has not played a single T20 match in his career but has made his way to the team, bizarre decision considering his statistics in the other formats are poor. Taimoor Sultan, another one who has not played a single T20 match in his career with poor statistics in the other formats. Both are spin bowling all rounders which points to what I am sure many fans would be asking right now, why not Kamran Ghulam?
3. Saad Nasim: Ordinary cricketer who has no place in any of these franchises. Averaging 22 with the bat and 30 with the ball in domestic T20 does not warrant a selection which he has consistently managed every season of the PSL so far.
4. Dwayne Bravo: Would have done well in any other country but averages a whopping 85 with the ball in UAE. Will be easy cannon fodder on grounds where spinners and legitimately fast bowlers will succeed. He is also injured for the start of the competition so relatively strange selection by the board, presumably to appease Sammy.
5. Very Hit and Miss: The team can score 200 on their day or be bowled out for 50, it is that unpredictable so will be many close matches involved, good for the league, not good for Zalmi fans.
EMERGING PLAYERS - Who are they?
Taimoor Sultan first caught the eye when he helped his team, University of the Central Punjab qualify for the semi-final of Red Bull Campus Cricket 2016. Started his playing careeer with SNGPL and scored his maiden century against Faisalabad in rhe QEA Trophy. Has not played a single T20 game.
Muhammad Arif Khan
Captained the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa U19 cricket team that won the U19 Pentangular's Cup, making a few impressive batting displays and scoring 127 runs in the mini tournament, he is a hard hitting opening batsmen with a strong frame. One of the exciting selections if he does get a chance to show us what he is made of.
Right Arm Leg Break Bowler from Hyderabad who can bat a small bit and has scores of 28,45 and 15 in his only two FC games, made his debut in the same game as Taimoor Sultan playing for Faisalabad where he took the wicket of Misbah Ul Haq. Wears Glasses to bat and bowl and is another one of the players who are yet to play a single T20 game.
Sameen Gul Afridi
He has represented Pakistan at their U17 tour to England and at the U19 World Cup 2016 where he touched 140km/h regularly. He made his first-class debut with United Bank and has taken 62 wickets in 13 FC games. He is rumoured to have a vicious in dipping yorker which brought Anwar Ali fame all those years ago.
Khalid Usman Khan
Known to be very talented and hard working player from Maneri in Swabi. He is an all-rounder, Khalid is a right hand batsman and bowls a tight Left Arm Orthodox spin. Khalid Usman has represented Abbottabad, Peshawar, Lahore, Baluchistan as well as WAPDA in past. He marked 34 wickets (Average 20.06) and scored 334 runs (Average 33.40) representing WAPDA in last QEA Trophy. He was leading allrounder throughout the competition. Usman was leading wicket taker spinner as well in last three QEA Trophy competitions. Only issue is he is 31 years old so age might not be on his side however it generally does not matter for spinners so could be a dark horse pick of the PSL because he has played under Younis Khan at Abbottobad.
Formed a good partnership with all openers in the second edition and ended up one of the highest scorers of the tournament, Zalmi will need him to fire if they are to get anywhere near the playoffs once again
Have always been his critic but with Hasan Ali out injured Wahab will have a big role to play leading the attack which he has done very well last two years in the PSL. Peshawar will need him to take plenty of important wickets if they want to emulate their success.
The captain needs to be on his A-Game if Peshawar are to play a starring role in PSL-3, he has the ability to end games within minutes with the bat however Zalmi will be hoping it rarely comes down to Sammy as chances are if they do then they have lost numerous wickets
Muhammad Asghar Durrani
With Afridi gone now is the time for Asghar to shine with his array of spin, Has a habit of picking up a lot of wickets in the domestic setting and if Sammy shows confidence in him he could very well end up the highest wicket taker of the tournament. On his day he has the ability to run through any team and is coming off a very good season in domestic cricket.
Zalmi has a power packed team full of big hitting batsmen, fast bowlers and all rounders however they need to sort out their team balance very quickly because the other teams are very strong this year. Losing so many players throughout the league will be a massive loss but how their replacements perform will decide how threatening Zalmi are, losing Afridi is not always easy and players like Shakib, Haris,Asghar and Khushdil need to combine with the bat and ball to replicate his contributions from last year. With Sammy as the captain and perhaps one of the best LOI captains in the world they have every chance in the world but only time will tell.
Peshawar Zalmi - PSL 2018 - Team Preview
Peshawar Zalmi - PSL 2018 - Team Preview