HBL PSL 2022: Quetta Gladiators vs Peshawar Zalmi — what to expect

Published January 28, 2022
This combination photo shows Peshawar Zalmi Captain Wahab Riaz (L) and Quetta Gladiators Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed (R). — White Star/DawnNewsTV
This combination photo shows Peshawar Zalmi Captain Wahab Riaz (L) and Quetta Gladiators Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed (R). — White Star/DawnNewsTV

The second match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2022 sees Quetta Gladiators lock horns with Peshawar Zalmi at National Stadium Karachi tonight. The match is scheduled to kick off at 8pm.

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

Quetta Gladiators

What did they do in offseason?

Quetta Gladiators used to be one of the most consistent PSL sides but they have gone off track the past two campaigns, finishing second last in 2020 and last in 2021. With such a poor recent record, this should be a make-or-break campaign for head coach Moin Khan and captain Sarfaraz Ahmed — both of whom have held their roles since the very inception of the franchise.

To make sure a third straight failure does not happen, the Gladiators made a number of changes this offseason. They traded for James Vince, Shahid Afridi and Iftikhar Ahmed while the coach’s son Azam Khan was given away to Islamabad.

A number of new overseas faces have arrived, including Shimron Hetmyer, James Faulkner, Luke Wood and Ben Duckett. England’s Jason Roy, who has previously played for the Gladiators, is also back although he will miss the start of the tournament due to international commitments. Faf du Plessis’ Quetta stint is, however, over but then he played only a handful of matches last year anyway.

How did they fare last year?

As explained above, the past two campaigns have been horrible for the Gladiators. After winning their maiden title in 2019, they’ve had a consistent and alarming slide, which hit its nadir last year when they won just two of their 10 matches and finished last.

Strengths and weaknesses

Batting was a major concern, and fixing that weakness was at the centre of their recruitment strategy. Roy, Vince and Hetmyer should boost their power-hitting while Iftikhar is no slouch either when it comes to smashing a few around the park, although he has never truly got going in PSL. Duckett is a capable anchor but the main man for that role should be the skipper himself, Sarfaraz.

Quetta pace is mainly composed of local names with the exception of Faulkner, who is expected to be a major contributor, especially if Mohammad Hasnain cops any suspensions due to his bowling action, which is being scrutinised by the ICC. Talking of Hasnain, he has been the main wicket-taker for Quetta in the past two campaigns. He gets some support from Naseem Shah but the youngster is yet to fully his stride in PSL. Perhaps, this could be his year.

The main spinner for Quetta will again be Mohammad Nawaz but his workload could be shared by Afghan wrist spinner Noor Ahmad and maybe even Iftikhar Ahmed and Shahid Afridi, for whom this will be a farewell tour.

It is easy to see where the Gladiators are still weak: their bowling. Faulker is a good addition but with a question mark on Hasnain’s participation later in the tournament and Shah yet to convince, it does seem that the Gladiators are still a quality bowler short.

Peshawar Zalmi

What did they do in offseason?

Darren Sammy is officially off Zalmi books. The former captain is now also the former head coach, as James Foster has been promoted to the role. As far as player recruitments are concerned, Zalmi did not have to do enough because their 2020 bunch did pretty well and was just one win away from winning the PSL for a second time.

Their focus was on retentions and re-signings, with only Ben Cutting their new overseas recruit. They did, however, let go of Mohammad Irfan, Umaid Asif and Mohammad Imran, who bagged 27 wickets among themselves last season. Also gone is Mujeeb Ur Rahman but then he barely played in PSL 2021.

How did they fare last year?

No matter what their form is like at any particular point in the tournament, Peshawar Zalmi can never be ruled out from making a deep playoff run. They perfected that reputation last year as despite blowing hot and cold during the round-robin stage, they came alive in the playoffs, slaying Karachi and Islamabad before finally falling to Mohammad Rizwan’s Multan Sultans in the title decider. Falling in the final is also another tendency of theirs that they demonstrated.

Strengths and weaknesses

Peshawar have plenty of power hitters on their books, especially in the top and middle orders. Liam Livingstone, Hazratullah Zazai, Haider Ali and Shoaib Malik can all hit many a ball out of the park. Kamran Akmal did not have a great PSL campaign last year but still finished among the top 10 on the scoring charts and can still be considered a dangerous batter. It is safe to say that their batting is one of the best in the entire tournament.

On the bowling front, they let Irfan, Umaid and Imran leave, but added local replacements in the form of Sohail Khan and Arshad Iqbal, the latter of whom is out temporarily due to Covid, forcing Zalmi to pick Amad Butt as his replacement.

The most exciting bowling addition is perhaps Usman Qadir, who was criminally underused by Multan last year and now finds a new home. He is considered by some as the most natural local legspinner in the country, which is why how he fares in a full PSL 2022 would be interesting.

In all, Zalmi are a batting-heavy side, and this year their bowlers will once again have to work hard to match the feats of their batters.

Potential playing XIs

Quetta Gladiators: Will Smeed, Ben Duckett, Shimron Hetmyer, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Iftikhar Ahmed, James Faulkner, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Hasnain, Khurram Shehzad, Sohail Tanvir, Naseem Shah

Peshawar Zalmi: Hazratullah Zazai, Imam-ul-Haq, Shoaib Malik, Haider Ali, Sherfane Rutherford, Hussain Talat, Mohammad Haris (wk), Amad Butt, Wahab Riaz, Usman Qadir, Pat Brown

Who has the edge?

Both the teams will be missing key players for their tournament opener but the ones absent for Quetta hold more value to them than the ones unavailable for Zalmi.

On paper, Zalmi appear to be the better of both the units.

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