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PSL 2018 preview: Will the under-achieving Karachi Kings do better under Imad Wasim?

Updated February 19, 2018

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Karachi Kings are the only Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise that has not hesitated in experimenting with its leadership.

After trying out Shoaib Malik, Ravi Bopara and Kumar Sangakkara as team captains, Imad Wasim has now been tasked with leading a side that has never lacked flair but has largely underperformed.

They had a strong team on paper in both of the first two PSLs, but still fared poorly and failed to leave a mark on the tournament.

This time, however, the team's management seems determined to make a difference. They have let their intent known by making the biggest trade of the season by signing Shahid Afridi.

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Afridi, or Boom Boom as he is affectionately referred to as, represented Peshawar Zalmi in the first two seasons and played a huge role in their stellar performances, but he has an emotional connection with Karachi — the city he cut his cricketing teeth in.

Can the Kings, who arguably have the largest fan base in the PSL, turn things around this time?

Despite having big names, PSL's second-most expensive team has not been able to showcase their true potential so far.

A leadership crisis in the team could be a major reason for their below-par performances which, with the inclusion of Afridi, may no longer be the case now.

A player of Afridi's charisma — something that has nothing to do with his on-field performances — can help bring unity to the team.

Wasim, the new captain, would be more than glad to have somebody as influential as the former Pakistan skipper by his side and helping him call the shots.

Wasim would want to improve his team’s record from the previous two editions, where the Kings managed just two and four wins respectively. He would need to utilise his men’s strengths to the maximum.

The key would be to know the best combination of players for each game.

Strengths and weaknesses

The team's squad for the upcoming season is a nice blend of young and experienced players, both in the batting and bowling departments.

Batting remains the Kings' strength, with Babar Azam, Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan leading the pack. It will be on Afridi and Lendl Simmons to provide the firepower.

In the presence of Colin Ingram, Mohammad Rizwan and Khurram Manzoor, Wasim would not have to worry much about the batting line-up’s stability.

Bowling, however, should be a cause of concern for the Kings even with Mohammad Amir in their ranks. Mitchell Johnson’s withdrawal and Usman Khan Shinwari's injury are major blows to the team.

An further injuries to their remaining bowlers would likely put the franchise in a disarray.

Player availability

The Kings took on board 25-year-old fast bowler Tymal Mills of England as replacement for Mitchell Johnson.

In place of New Zealand’s Colin Munro, who would not be able to take part in this season due to his domestic commitments, Lendl Simmons would be making his way into the Kings line-up.

Simmons is one of the many globetrotting West Indian cricketers known for their aggressive T20 game play.

England all-rounder Luke Wright was replaced by another English batsman Joe Denly. Wright excused himself from the tournament to nurse an ill-timed injury.

Player to watch: Hasan Mohsin

Hasan Mohsin, 20, would certainly be the one to watch out for. He was remarkable in Pakistan’s unimpressive run during the 2016 U-19 World Cup, scoring 293 runs and taking 11 wickets in six matches.

Mohsin, who started off as a leg-spinner but has since transformed himself into a reliable all-rounder and now bowls medium-fast, was dubbed as the find of the tournament by many cricket pundits at home.

Mohsin in action — File
Mohsin in action — File

In the domestic circuit, he is known to be the kind of batsman against whom the bowlers have to fight for his wicket. He may go on to be the ‘big find’ of the third PSL edition as well, just like Mohammad Nawaz in the first edition and Hasan Ali and Shadab Khan in the second.

Squad

Imad Wasim (captain), Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Amir, Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Ravi Bopara, Usman Khan Shinwari, Usama Mir, Khurram Manzoor, Colin Ingram, Tymal Mills, Joe Denly, David Wiese, Tabish Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Hasan Mohsin, Lendl Simmons, Eoin Morgan and Saifullah Bangash.