PSL 2022: What to expect from tournament opener between Karachi Kings and Multan Sultans

Published January 27, 2022
Babar Azam (L) and Mohammad Rizwan (R), opening partner for Pakistan, will lead Karachi Kings and Multan Sultans respectively in PSL 2022. — Photo courtesy: PSL
Babar Azam (L) and Mohammad Rizwan (R), opening partner for Pakistan, will lead Karachi Kings and Multan Sultans respectively in PSL 2022. — Photo courtesy: PSL

The seventh edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2022 is upon us. The opening match of the tournament sees Karachi Kings host defending champions Multan Sultans at National Stadium Karachi tonight. The game is expected to kick off at 7pm but not before a star-studded opening ceremony formally declares the tournament open for business.

Ahead of the tournament opener, here is all you need to know about the two teams that will be in action tonight:

Karachi Kings

What did they do in offseason?

Karachi Kings have had a bit of an English takeover recently, with a number of their personnel, including their new coach, being from Egland.
Karachi Kings have had a bit of an English takeover recently, with a number of their personnel, including their new coach, being from Egland.

Karachi Kings made two major leadership changes during the offseason. They took away the captaincy from Imad Wasim and handed it to Babar Azam and also appointed Peter Moores as their new head coach, with the Englishman succeeding Herschelle Gibbs in the role.

The Kings have had a bit of an English takeover recently. Their new coach is English while they re-signed Joe Clarke and recruited Lewis Gregory, Chris Jordan and Ian Cockbain – all from England.

West Indies’ Romario Shepherd was supposed to join them but international commitments means that he was replaced by yet another Englishman: Tom Lammonby.

They also brought back veteran pacer Umaid Asif from Peshawar Zalmi.

READ: PM Imran Khan opens PSL 7 with dramatic 'TikTok-esque' video and people are impressed

How did they fare last year?

Having won their maiden title in 2020, the Kings were the defending champions last year but did not have a great campaign, finishing joint fourth and making it to the playoffs only due to better run rate. They ran out of luck in the playoffs where they fell on the very first hurdle against Peshawar Zalmi in a match where Afghanistan’s Hazratullah Zazai put them to sword.

Strengths and weaknesses

Mohammad Amir was in poor form during PSL 2021 and his form will be key to Karachi's performance this season.
Mohammad Amir was in poor form during PSL 2021 and his form will be key to Karachi's performance this season.

The Kings’ top three look stupendous. They have Babar Azam’s reliance, Sharjeel Khan’s explosiveness, while Joe Clarke brings a bit of both to the table. Innings anchoring will not be a problem as there exists Babar. Even Sahibzada Farhan can do that job for a bit, if given the opportunity.

For finishing touches towards the end, they’d rely on Mohammad Nabi and Gregory, although playing them both at the same time might prove to be a bit tricky.

While the Kings have arguably the most impressive top three in the competition, their quality starts to wane after that and post-number six it completely falls off the roof. Their tail is a bit longer than what’s seemed ideal.

The bowling unit will again be led by Mohammad Amir but the pacer was completely out of sorts in last PSL. With Jordan by his side, however, there is hope for a revival. In all, bowling definitely is the main weakness of Karachi, which means their batters will have to work much harder to put bigger than usual totals on the board.

Word is that Amir is injured for tonight's game, while Imad and Jordan are unavailable due to Covid. If that is the case, Karachi, with already thin numbers, will be at a significant disadvantage.

Multan Sultans

What did they do in offseason?

Powerful Singapore hitter Tim David, who played for Lahore Qalandars last season, has joined Multan.
Powerful Singapore hitter Tim David, who played for Lahore Qalandars last season, has joined Multan.

The biggest thing Multan Sultans did in 2021 is just sitting back and watching the incredible rise and rise of their captain Mohammad Rizwan. The pint-sized wicketkeeper-batsman with a dynamite game was already on the rise in the last PSL but has further enhanced his reputation over the past six months, and was recently named the ICC T20I Cricketer of the Year for 2021.

On the recruitments front, they’ve added Singapore’s Tim David to their side. The 6’5 batter has a massive game as Lahore fans would attest to and is now a regular in all major leagues.

The Sultans did let go James Vince, Shahid Afridi and Sohail Tanvir but they’ve signed the former’s replacement while the latter two were no more major contributors. Usman Qadir is also off to Peshawar but he was Imran Tahir’s understudy anyway.

How did they fare last year?

The Sultans started the 2021 tournament poorly, winning just one of their opening five games before a Covid outbreak saw the league postponed for a few months. The break got them a proverbial shot in the arm (pun absolutely intended!) and when the league resumed, they were a different side altogether. A side that couldn’t get a win over the first leg went on a tear in the second leg, winning six of their next seven matches to clinch their maiden title.

Strengths and weaknesses

After Shahid Afridi and Usman Qadir's departures, Imran Tahir remains Multan's sole top level spin option.
After Shahid Afridi and Usman Qadir's departures, Imran Tahir remains Multan's sole top level spin option.

The Sultans are absolutely stuffed with power hitters. Their possible middle order could end up featuring names such as Sohaib Maqsood, Rilee Rossouw, Tim David, Khushdil Shah, David Willey – all scary hitters. Even Anwar Ali at number eight can hit a few out of the park while Rovman Powell is no slouch either.

But like the Kings, the Sultans’ tail can also be slightly long as neither of Imran Tahir, Imran Khan, Blessing Muzarabani and Shahnawaz Dahani can bat even a little bit, but then all four do not necessarily need to play at once.

Sohail Tanvir’s departure is offset by David Willey and Anwar Ali’s arrivals but there is one area of concern: the spin department. Where the Sultans had Imran Tahir, Shahid Afridi and Usman Qadir’s services last year, they only have the former left with now. Tahir is well into his 40s now and expecting him to carry the spin burden for the entire tournament is perhaps asking too much.

Playing XIs (tentative and unconfirmed)

Karachi Kings: Babar Azam, Joe Clarke, Sharjeel Khan, Rohail Nazir, Mohammad Nabi, Lewis Gregory, Aamer Yamin, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Taha Khan, Mohammad Ilyas, Mohammad Amir

Multan Sultans: Mohammad Rizwan, Shan Masood, Sohaib Maqsood, Tim David, Rilee Rossouw, Khushdil Shah, David Willey, Shahnawaz Dahani, Rumman Raees, Imran Khan, Imran Tahir

Who has the edge?

On paper, the Kings are supposed to enjoy home advantage but considering that only 8,000 fans are allowed at NSK and the Kings have no added knowledge of local conditions, any edge will only be academic.

Compare the two sides and it becomes evident from a cursory look that Multan Sultans pack more punch and just have greater overall talent. Some of their players could be rusty due to not having played competitive cricket of late so they may again start a little slow but as the tournament progresses, Multan should gradually improve and eventually look scary good.

For this game, the mind says Multan, the heart says Karachi.

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