It’s been barely three months since Imad Wasim struck a spectacular boundary to propel Karachi Kings to their maiden Pakistan Super League (PSL) title.
A new season of PSL is already upon us, with the 2021 edition getting underway on February 20. Defending champions Karachi Kings will lock horns with one-time title-winners and three-time finalists, Quetta Gladiators, in the inaugural game.
Karachi Kings, who had never featured in a PSL final prior to the previous edition, managed to lift the trophy despite the death of Dean Jones. The passing away of their head coach emotionally impacted the team. They displayed exceptional mental strength to overcome that setback and finish the season with the title.
With a roster full of local guns and international stars, Karachi Kings now enter this edition as the favorites to defend their crown.
The Kings have traded Alex Hales, presently a globe-trotting hot T20 property, with Colin Ingram. The left-hander from South Africa had a terrific couple of seasons at Karachi in 2018 and 2019 before he moved to Islamabad United. He is now back to bolster the middle-order, which also features a T20 specialist from Australia - Dan Christian.
With the release of Mohammad Rizwan, Karachi Kings are short of an extremely reliable wicket-keeper batsman. Chadwick Walton is expected to do the keeping duties. Moreover, an over-reliance on Mohammad Amir might adversely affect the team's cause, with Karachi Kings lacking depth in pace-bowling.
Karachi Kings Probable XI: Sharjeel Khan, Babar Azam, Colin Ingram, Dan Christian, Mohammad Nabi, Imad Wasim (capt), Chadwick Walton (wk), Aamer Yamin, Mohammad Amir, Waqas Maqsood, Arshad Iqbal/Mohammad Ilyas
Once a powerhouse franchise in PSL, Quetta Gladiators are coming off a massively disappointing campaign in last year's edition. That blip, however, is not entirely reflective of the state the team is in, as the Gladiators' squad made some major tweaks.
Despite the absence of Jason Roy and the now-retired Australian all-rounder Shane Watson, Quetta Gladiators have recruited big-hitting entities. Chris Gayle, Tom Banton, Cameron Delport, and Faf du Plessis will spearhead their batting. The Afghani leg-spinner Qais Ahmad is also in the ranks and will have a definite role to play.
Sarfaraz Ahmed, the former Pakistan skipper, has been at the helm ever since the inception of the competition and will be eager to amend things in PSL 2021. He has a decent pool of local cricketers in Mohammad Hasnain, Azam Khan, Naseem Shah, Zahid Mahmood, and Mohammad Nawaz. They might have a career-defining PSL campaign.
Quetta Gladiators Probable XI: Tom Banton, Chris Gayle, Cameron Delport, Azam Khan, Sarfaraz Ahmed (c), Ben Cutting, Mohammad Nawaz, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Hasnain, Zahid Mahmood, Naseem Shah/Usman Khan Shinwari
All matches of PSL 2021 will be played in Karachi and Lahore, with 20% crowd attendances allowed. The first half of the competition will be played entirely in Karachi whereas PSL 2021 matches scheduled March 10 onwards, including the play-offs, will be hosted by Lahore.
Where to watch PSL 2021 in India?
All PSL 2021 matches will be broadcast by the Sony Sports Network in India. Fans can also catch the PSL 2021 live-stream on SonyLIV. The tournament-opener between Karachi Kings and Quetta Gladiators will commence at 7.30 PM IST.