The 3rd season of the Pakistan Super League started with a bang this week as the newly introduced Multan Sultans defeated the defending champions Peshawar Zalmi in the opening match. The tournaments enter it’s third season bigger and much grander than the previous two seasons, however former Pakistani cricketer turned commentator Ramiz Raja still believes that PSL is only second to the Indian Premier League.
“The PSL has been a success story from all angles. Every year the player profile keeps increasing and improving and money keeps pouring in. Making their debuts in PSL 3 and vying for attention will be Chris Lynn, Colin Ingram and Jofra Archer. In per-match ratio term PSL is second only to the IPL,” wrote Ramiz in his column for TOI.
The 55-year-old was clearly excited with the addition of one new team in the 3rd season i.e Multan Sultans and is eager to watch their formidable trio of left-arm pacers that includes Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Tanvir and Junaid Khan. He wrote,
“Multan Sultans is the latest addition to the PSL. It is now a six-team event. Sultans’ strategy to pick three left arm quicks in Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Tanvir and Junaid Khan is an interesting one. This choice of angle though can be a double-edged sword.”
“The spin cupboard however seems bare and shows inexperience with just Imran Tahir to lend help and hope. They have as strength, players who have international league experience in Kieron Pollard, Shoaib Malik, who will captain them, Sohail Tanvir and Kumar Sangakkara.”
Quetta Gladiators who have reached the final of the first two seasons of PSL but have failed to win the title on both the occasions have brought in West Indian great Viv Richards as a mentor for a team. Ramiz Raja who played 57 Tests and 198 ODIs for Pakistan is hoping the addition of the batting legend could propel the Gladiators to their first PSL title.
“Quetta Gladiators have Viv Richards as their mentor and that’s where they beat the rest of the field as you couldn’t headhunt a greater sage than the great man. He has been an inspiration for Gladiators and has worked well with captain Sarfraz Ahmed. The Gladiators have been the finalist in both the PSLs. Their win percentage is best for any team and this could be a result of a consistent team selection.”
“Their three major overseas players; Watson, Pietersen and Rossouw, are available throughout the tournament which is an added advantage. They also have two of the world’s most exciting T20 stars in Rashid Khan and Jofra Archer,” Ramiz Raja said.
The favourites for the 3rd season will definitely be the defending champions Peshawar Zalmi, who will be under the charge of 2-time T20 World Cup winning captain Darren Sammy. Apart from a destructive batting line-up, Peshawar Zalmi also have a lethal bowling attack that includes the likes of Wahab Riaz, Chris Jordan, Hasan Ali and Dwayne Bravo.
Speaking about Peshawar’s chances in the 3rd season Ramiz Raja said, “Peshawar Zalmi are the current champions of the Pakistan Super League. Sammy, their captain, had become the toast of the nation when he braved security to travel to Lahore and won the title without Shahid Afridi, who sat out injured. Peshawar’s strength is in its bowling. Wahab Riaz is the leading wicket taker in the tournament with 30 wickets and he will share the spoils with Pakistan’s latest poster boy Hasan Ali.”
“Their major problem though will be the unavailability of players. Evin Lewis, Tamim Iqbal and Shakib will be partly available. Another headache will be to find and field an all-rounder in the playing XI since Afridi has moved to Karachi Kings,” concluded Ramiz Raja.
After 30 league matches, the knockout round of PSL season 3 is scheduled to take place in Lahore at the Gaddafi Stadium and the final is scheduled for 25th March at the National Stadium in Karachi.