KARACHI: Andy Flower on Wednesday hoped that Multan Sultans can still bounce back into contention for the HBL Pakistan Super League 6 playoffs despite struggling in the first half of the tournament in Karachi.
Addressing a virtual media conference a day before Multan Sultans face holders Karachi Kings in Abu Dhabi — the venue for the remaining 20 matches, including the June 24 final at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium — head coach Flower candidly admitted Multan need to improve their game overall if they aspire to go all the way while disregarding the problems they had encountered during the first leg.
“Obviously, we would have liked to be further up the table at the halfway mark, but it’s not the case. I thought the first leg in Karachi was tough for all the teams as well all know and the only game that saw team winning not chasing was the very last game [Multan losing by 22 runs against Quetta Gladiators] and most times, toss proved decisive and we won only one toss in five fixtures,” Flower said.
“Actually I may say that we’ve been given a chance to start afresh. In Karachi I had told my team not to be daunted by the toss issue and told them to break that [toss] rhythm. Unfortunately, we broke it in the wrong way. But you get yourself distracted by the fact results went by the toss as often as it did.
“Over here considering the dew factor and everything else, you can win by batting or bowling first by playing outstanding cricket, and that’s going to be our prime responsibility. In hindsight, we actually did well enough with [Mohammad] Rizwan leading the way despite being pigeon-holed as someone not being a natural T20 player. The bowling remained problematic for us, both upfront and at the death with guys not taking many wickets.”
The former Zimbabwe stalwart also admitted Multan’s struggles to the eleventh-hour changed in the captaincy when Shan Masood was inexplicably replaced by Rizwan in the role just days before start of the Karachi leg in mid-February.
“In a way it did contribute to how the team played so close to the start of the competition. Shan is and was a much-loved and respected captain who did a fantastic job in PSL 5 [leading the side to top of the standings with seven victories],” Flower commented.
“The change of leadership upset the equilibrium of the entire [side] and that is an honest assessment of the situation we find ourselves in, although Rizwan did a good job and I was impressed by the way he approached the game. A confident guy who led from the front as we saw him with his batting.”
Meanwhile, Islamabad United head coach Johan Botha expected his charges to begin the Abu Dhabi phase on a winning note, while not getting worried by outside factors such as toss and dew.
“It’s always a tricky one, I mean the trend of games won by teams chasing. But whatever we’ve to do batting first we’ve to do it pretty well. I thought we didn’t bat to our true potential during the Karachi leg,” the former South Africa spinner told reporters hours before Islamabad played Lahore Qalandars on Wednesday night.
“Having said that I think we learnt a lot from what we found in the first leg. Tonight obviously there will be new conditions and completely different to what we saw back in Karachi. The weather [in Abu Dhabi] is a key factor but we’ve sort of adapted to the situation in the training sessions at different times of the days since we came over here. I have no complaints on how hot it is here,” Botha went on.
“In this tournament the bench will be so important just as the playing XI itself because there will be a lot of sweating, batsmen repeatedly changing gloves, taking more fluids on the field to remain hydrated. The bench has to make sure it keeps the guys on the field on their feet.”
Botha termed Shadab Khan as the best captain of PSL.
“Shadab is a cool customary and there is a lot of calmness in his approach to captaincy. In my book, he’s probably the best captain in this PSL because he does a lot of good things on the field and the boys respect him and that’s all you can ask of your captain,” Botha stated.
Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2021