The stage is set for a star-studded opening ceremony of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) season four with local and international cricketers all gathered in Dubai with celebrities from around the world to witness the country’s premium sporting event.
The PSL opening ceremony would take place on Thursday after which the first match would be played between defending champions Islamabad United and Lahore Qalandars.
Defending champs United led by their new captain Mohammad Sami will face a rebuilt Lahore Qalandars side which will be captained by Mohammad Hafeez during this edition of the league. Both teams exhibit both local and foreign talent and it is expected to be an exciting contest.
While Qalandars have AB de Villiers, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez and Shaheen Afridi, players like Luke Ronchi, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Sami, Cameron Delport, Philip Salt and Faheem Ashraf make United standout in every passing edition.
The match between Islamabad United and Lahore Qalandars is essentially a clash between the most successful and least successful teams of last year’s Pakistan Super League.
While Islamabad United won the title last year, Lahore Qalandars ended at the bottom of the points table once again and would look for a course correction after sorry performances in the last three seasons. However, it would be tough for them to get off their campaign to a winning start as they would be competing against Islamabad United.
Lahore Qalandars’ biggest trump card would be AB de Villiers. They would also have the likes of Fakhar Zaman, Yasir Shah, Carlos Brathwaite, Corey Anderson and Sandeep Lamichhane who are proven match winners. The team would be led by Mohammad Hafeez.
Date: Thursday, February 14, 2019
Timing: 10:45 PM PKT
Weather: Weather is expected to be sunny with a few clouds into the afternoon.
Conditions / Pitch Report: The Dubai surface should suit the spin bowlers but there is enough in the balanced pitch for the batsmen and seamers too.
Head to Head:
Matches: 6 | Islamabad United: 4 | Lahore Qalandars: 2 | NR: 0
- Islamabad United 164/4 beat Lahore Qalandars 163/8
- Islamabad United 121/9 tied with Lahore Qalandars 121/10
- Islamabad United 145/8 lost to Lahore Qalandars 146/9
Islamabad United: W W L W W (completed matches, most recent first)
Lahore Qalandars: L W T W L
1. Islamabad United
Islamabad United, the winners of the 2016 and 2018 editions, also have a new captain in Mohammad Sami after they let go of Misbah-ul-Haq. Luke Ronchi, the most destructive batsman from last year’s PSL, will be back in action, as will a fit-again Rumman Raees.
Ronchi is a natural when it comes to big knocks and will be a lethal player for the Islamabad United. A player of his quality is always a danger for opposition bowlers as he often tends to take the game away with his maximums.
Islamabad can also boast of solid international experience in Ian Bell and Cameron Delport. Both batsmen are considered as reliable T20 batters.
Islamabad United’s Probable XI:
1. Luke Ronchi (wk), 2. Sahibzada Farhan, 3. Ian Bell, 4. Cameron Delport, 5. Asif Ali, 6. Hussain Talat, 7. Shadab Khan, 8. Samit Patel, 9. Faheem Ashraf, 10. Mohammad Sami (c), 11. Rumman Raees
2. Lahore Qalandars
New-look Lahore Qalandars will face off against defending champions Islamabad United. All eyes will be on the biggest star attraction AB de Villiers, who is playing his debut PSL after retiring from international cricket for South Africa last year.
His presence will boost Lahore Qalandars who are looking to turn around their fortune after crashing out of the tournament in all the previous three seasons.
Qalandars also have a new leader in Mohammad Hafeez, replacing former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum who had an underwhelming past two seasons with the team. All-rounders Carlos Brathwaite, Corey Anderson and batsman Fakhar Zaman round up the batting lineup.
Qalandars are flush, with fast bowler Hardus Viljoen and all-rounder David Wiese also among the ranks. Viljoen recently became a T20 freelancer of sorts, snubbing a Proteas career for a Kolpak contract, which was later cancelled in the wake of BPL, PSL and IPL notoriety.
Lahore Qalandar’s Probable XI:
1. Fakhar Zaman, 2. Anton Devcich, 3. AB de Villiers, 4. Mohammad Hafeez (c), 5. Agha Salman (wk), 6. Carlos Brathwaite, 7. Sohail Akhtar, 8. Hassan Khan, 9. Hardus Viljoen, 10. Shaheen Afridi, 11. Haris Rauf
Players to watch:
1. Ab de Villiers – Batsman, Lahore Qalandars
Ab de Villiers is always a dangerous player when it comes to the shortest format of the game. One of the most powerful hitters of the ball, de Villiers doesn’t need any time to adjust and can switch gears in an instant.
The South African great will be making his first appearance in the Pakistan Super League, which is now into its fourth season. He will be tasked with rousing a chronically under-performing franchise, who have finished last in every PSL to date.
2. Luke Ronchi – Batsman, Islamabad United
What Ab de Villiers is to Lahore Qalandars, Luke Ronchi is to Islamabad United. Ronchi is a natural when it comes to big knocks and could be a lethal player for the Islamabad United. A player of his quality is always a danger for opposition bowlers as he often tends to take the game away with his maximums.
Luke Ronchi ended as the highest run-scorer and the man of the tournament last year with 435 runs from 11 matches which included five half-centuries would definitely be a player to watch.
3. Shadab Khan – Bowler, Islamabad United
Ranked No 3 in the world ratings for T20 bowlers, the leg-spinner was an integral part of Islamabad’s title win last year. He still only 20, but has long been a mainstay both at international and franchise level. He is held in such high regard that he has been elevated to the role of Islamabad vice-captain, as understudy to veteran quick bowler Mohammed Sami.
4. Mohammad Hafeez – All-rounder, Lahore Qalandars
Lahore Qalandars skipper Mohammad Hafeez is a utility player. While there may be someone who steals the spotlight, Hafeez will be very consistent for Qalandars. Hafeez reads the game very well and tunes his batting accordingly. He has been very good with the ball. His slow bowling and variations often put the batsmen in a heap of trouble.
Highest Total: 169/2 by IU v LQ at Sharjah in 2016
Highest Individual Score: 79* & 79 by Sharjeel Khan & Shane Watson in 2016
Best Bowling: GD Elliott 3-0-23-4 v IU in 2017 at Dubai
- Ab de Villiers needs 1 more batting innings to feature in 250 T20 inngs, 8 more Fours to complete 600 Fours in T20 Cricket & 20 more Sixes to complete 350 T20 Sixes.
- Samit Patel needs 1 more Wicket to complete 200 T20 Wickets.