Monday night’s sole Pakistan Super League fixture sees Karachi Kings take on Lahore Qalandars in what was once billed as the clash of titans but has since turned into a battle of sleeping giants.
But while the Kings appear to have woken up from their two-year-long slumber, the Qalandars have not. They are now, in fact, comatose.
Following their struggles of 2016 and 2017, the Kings wised up. They revamped their roster in the off-season and even though it still seems a bit early to call, they do look like genuine title contenders.
For the Qalandars, however, it's the same old story. Or, more aptly, slapstick comedy. For a side that finished bottom of the table the first two years, the only way should've been up. But the Qalandars appear to have regressed. Forget sixth, they might finish seventh in the six-team PSL if they don't improve immediately.
That they have already been dismissed just four days into the tournament is a bitter indictment of how poor the Qalandars have been.
The Brendon McCullum-captained side is top heavy and has a tail longer than Asian grass lizards — classic signs of a team destined to doom. And there is, almost always, a pattern to their plight.
The Qalandars start off brightly before fading away or melting down in the middle overs. McCullum's strategy to come out all guns blazing may have worked all his international career but the Qalandars, unfortunately, don't have a Kane Williamson or a Ross Taylor playing the anchorman role. What they have is the ever unreliable Umar Akmal. Owner Rana Fawad should have a chat with whoever is incharge of his team's player recruitment.
Karachi, on the other hand, went about their business very smartly in the off-season, signing up Shahid Afridi when many thought the wily veteran had little to offer. Needless to say that that gamble has paid off handsomely.
They may still have their flaws but so far they haven't shown.
The Qalandars' back-to-back losses to open the tournament means that tonight's game is almost a must-win fixture for them. Lose again and their target from trying to finish first will unofficially turn into how to avoid bottom.
The Kings sit atop the PSL points table and can afford to experiment against a visibly weak Lahore side; however, they shouldn't: in T20 tourneys, fortunes change in the blink of an eye.