KARACHI: No HBL Pakistan Super League champions had ever managed to retain their crown but Karachi Kings are determined to change that around under their new head coach Herschelle Gibbs with Babar Azam — arguably one of the best batsmen in present world cricket — set to play a pivotal role.
But if Karachi Kings do lose their grip of the title in the HBL PSL 6 then they’ll be remembered as the title winners for the shortest ever span — of just four months since they won the final in Karachi last November — in the tournament history.
Former South Africa batsman Gibbs is still finding his way in the role of coaching as he prepares to fill the huge void created by the untimely demise of Dean Jones in September 2020. Jones — the ex-Australia batting star — was at the helm during Karachi Kings’ run in the league stage before the HBL PSL V came to an abrupt halt in the middle of March following the outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19). The franchise president Wasim Akram then acted as the interim coach during the playoffs.
Karachi Kings — one of just two HBL PSL franchises — also carry a proud record of never missing out the playoffs in all five editions thus far, and given the squad they have assembled this year, they certainly have enough depth to hold them in good stead once again.
Regardless of his undoubted class, Babar heads into the competition with lack of big runs but the all-format Pakistan captain has uncanny qualities of quickly getting his stride. The advantage that Babar has here is that he can completely focus on his batting, while Imad Wasim continues as captain.
Disgruntled Pakistan paceman Mohammad Amir is Karachi Kings’ go-to-man as the left-armer spearheads the bowling which looks quite balanced, at least on paper, with a good mix of youth (Mohammad Ilyas, Arshad Iqbal, Abbas Afridi and Afghanistan’s Noor Ahmed, who at just 16 is a left-arm wrist spinner) and experience (Mohammad Nabi, Waqas Maqsood, Dan Christian and Aamir Yamin).
Karachi Kings also expect great things from Danish Aziz, who was in the Pakistan squad that won the recent T20 series against South Africa. Yet to be capped at the international level, the left-handed Danish is almost guaranteed to be among the choices for starting line-up.
Another exciting talent in the squad is Qasim Akram. The 18-year-old is rated one of the most talented batting all-rounders who should be playing for the senior Pakistan side after having already represented the country at junior level.
Squad: Imad Wasim (captain), Babar Azam, Colin Ingram, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nabi, Dan Christian, Sharjeel Khan, Aamir Yamin, Chadwick Walton, Joe Clarke, Danish Aziz, Zeeshan Malik, Waqas Maqsood, Mohammad Ilyas, Qasim Akram, Arshad Iqbal, Noor Ahmed, Abbas Afridi.
Backroom staff: Herschelle Gibbs (head coach), Dougie Brown (assistant coach), Wasim Akram (bowling mentor and president), Faisal Iqbal (batting coach), Kamran Khan (fielding coach), Imtiaz Khan (physio), Ibrahim Qureshi (trainer), Mohammad Irfan (masseur), Faisal Mirza (media manager).
Season M W L T NR/Abd SR Rank
2016 9 2 7 0 0 22.22 4th
2017 10 5 5 0 0 50.00 3rd
2018 12 5 5 1 1 50.00 3rd
2019 11 5 6 0 0 45.45 4th
2020 12 7 4 0 1 58.33 1st
Overall 54 24 27 1 2 44.44 —
Opponents M W L T NR/Abd SR
Islamabad United 14 8 6 0 0 57.14 Lahore Qalandars 11 7 3 1 0 68.18
Multan Sultans 7 3 1 1 2 57.14
Peshawar Zalmi 12 4 8 0 0 33.33
Quetta Gladiators 10 3 7 0 0 30.00
Karachi Kings’ fixtures (all times in PST)
Feb 20: vs Quetta Gladiators (Karachi, 7:00pm)
Feb 24: vs Islamabad United (Karachi, 7:00pm)
Feb 27: vs Multan Sultans (Karachi, 2:00pm)
Feb 28: vs Lahore Qalandars (Karachi, 7:00pm)
March 3: vs Peshawar Zalmi (Karachi, 2:00pm)
March 5: vs Multan Sultans (Karachi, 7:00pm)
March 7: vs Islamabad United (Karachi, 7:00pm)
March 10: vs Peshawar Zalmi (Lahore, 7:00pm)
March 13: vs Quetta Gladiators (Lahore, 2:00pm)
March 14: vs Lahore Qalandars (Lahore, 7:00pm)
Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2021