KARACHI: Pakistan Super League's (PSL) inaugural edition was more than just a hit, even in the absence of many world cricket stars.
With the second edition of the tournament some eight months away, The Express Tribune has identified at least 13 foreign T20I stars who we can expect to see in the upcoming tournament.
Mitchell Johnson (Australia):
Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson retired earlier this year after representing the Baggy Green’s for more than a decade.
The veteran left-arm fast-bowler, who is already a free agent, will be available for next year's PSL edition.
The 34-year-old became the spearhead of Australian fast-bowling attack after Brett Lee's departure, and played a key role in the ICC World Cup 2015 triumph on home soil.
He was also awarded the man of the series award when Kangaroos famously whitewashed England in 2014, where his fiery bowling pretty much single-handedly dismantled the English batting line up.
Johnson was recently involved in the Indian Premier League (IPL) with the Kings XI Punjab, where he played three matches and picked up two wickets.
George Bailey (Australia):
The former Australia T20I captain has been taking part in different leagues all over the world, and can be expected to take part in the second edition PSL in UAE.
In the February 2017, the Kangaroos will play their neighbours New Zealand in ODI’s and T20 series, and then are due to travel to India, where they will play four-match Test series.
Even though Bailey is centrally contracted with Cricket Australia (CA), he is yet to feature in Australian Test team since Ashes 2014, which means he would be free to take part in the upcoming PSL for the last two weeks of the tournament.
Aaron Finch (Australia):
Another former Australian T20I captain Aaron Finch, who recently played for Gujrat Lions in IPL 2016, is another candidate to feature in the second edition of PSL.
The right-handed batsman scored impressive 393 runs in 12 innings for Gujrat Lions, at an average of over 39. This would make him a formidable force in upcoming PSL.
The 29-year-old made his limited overs cricket debut for national side more than three years ago, but is yet to feature in the Test line-up, which means he would also be available to play in UAE in February 2017.
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James Faulkner (Australia):
The man of the match award winner of ICC World Cup 2015 final, James Faulkner is another player who is expected to be available for the next edition of the PSL.
The 26-year-old all-rounder had a poor IPL with Gujrat Lions franchise, where he picked up just two wickets in seven matches, and scored just 77 runs with the bat.
The Tasmanian-born cricketer, who has already represented the Baggy Greens in 19 T20Is, has only played one Test for his country, and therefore, just like Aaron Finch and George Bailey, is expected to be free for the last two weeks of February next year.
Mustafizur Rahman (Bangladesh):
The world has witnessed the rise Bangladesh’s Mustafizur Rahman in the international cricket, and within no time, he is now termed as one of the most skillfull bowlers in the limited overs cricket.
The 20-year-old had a sensational first season in the IPL with Sunrises Hyderabad, where he impressed with his accuracy and clever tactics, and played a pivotal role in helping his side triumph in the tournament.
The Satkhira-born left-armer picked 17 wickets in 16 matches at an impressive strike rate of under 20, and had the best bowling economy in the tournament (6.71) for any bowler who bowled more than 20 overs in the tournament.
He was also picked up in the inaugural edition of the PSL, but the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) refused to allow him a 'No Objection Certificate' (NOC) to save him from extra burden ahead of Asia Cup T20 and World T20 tournaments.
However, Bangladesh have no cricket events from start of February to end of May, which shows that there is a good chance we will see Muhammad Amir and his fan playing in the same tournament for the first time.
Eoin Morgan (England):
The Irish-born England captain Eoin Morgan, is another candidate who might be available in the second edition of PSL.
The left-handed batsman has been one of the star performers for the Three Lions in the last decade and has also done well in the Indian Premier League this year, playing for winners Hyderabad Sunrisers.
The English team is due to face West Indies in the later part of the month of February next year, which means that Morgan would be available in the opening weeks of PSL next year.
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Jos Buttler (England):
England wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler is one of the stars in modern day cricket, after producing some sublime performances in the ODI and T20 formats.
The 25-year-old has already played 48 T20Is for England, where he averages over 26 with a strike rate of over 140.
He also scored a blistering hundred against Pakistan when England visited UAE in 2015, scoring 116 off just 52 balls with the help 10 fours and eight sixes.
The Mumbai Indians player, who is also known as one of the best finishers in cricket, would be available for the opening part of the tournament just like Eoin Morgan.
Brendon McCullum (New Zealand):
Former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, who retired from international cricket a month before World T20, is amongst the name of players certain to take part in the next year's tournament.
The 34-year-old played in IPL 2016 with Gujrat Lions, where he scored 354 runs at an average of over 22.
With no international cricket in sight, the only Kiwi captain who led his team to ICC World Cup final will be one of the hottest properties in the drafting of 2017 season.
Angelo Mathews (Sri Lanka):
Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews has undoubtedly been the star performer for islanders for a long period of time, especially in the shorter formats of the game.
The 28-year-old has already played more than 200 T20s in his career, and he can be useful with both bat and ball for any team.
Sri Lanka have no cricket in the month of February next year, which means the handy all-rounder will be up for grabs for the franchises in the next edition of PSL.
Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka):
Lasith Malinga is termed as the best death bowler in the world, who can bowl with an immaculate control when it comes down to Yorkers and slow balls.
The veteran fast-bowler is the fourth highest wicket taker in T20Is behind Pakistan’s trio of Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal, and he is also the second leading wicket taker in T20 cricket all over the world with 299 wickets, only behind West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo.
The 32-year-old has already retired from Tests, and with no limited over series scheduled for next year in the month of February, Malinga will surely attract interest from PSL franchise owners and team captains.
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Kieron Pollard (West Indies):
Kieron Pollard is known for his power hitting, which is why he has already featured in every major T20 league in the world, including IPL and Australia’s Big Bash League (BBL).
The 29-year-old is also among players who constantly had payment issues with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), due to which he was not considered for selection in the 50-over and Test format.
Even though West Indies are due to face England in the later part of the month of February, the all-rounder is expected to be available for the most part of the tournament and will attract immense interest from the team owners and captains.
Marlon Samuels (West Indies)
Marlon Samuels has been termed as Mr Dependable for the Carribean side for a number of years now.
The 35-year-old was man of the match award winner in both finals of the ICC World T20, where his team went on to win the title, most recently against England at Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
He is centrally contracted with the WICB and does feature in all formats for his country. However, since the series against England will start in the last part of the month of February next year, there are chances that the Kingston-born batsman will feature in the tournament next year.
Carlos Brathwaite (West Indies):
Carlos Ricardo Brathwaite emerged onto the scene of international cricket in the last over the ICC World T20 final against England at Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
With 19 needing of the last over to clinch the title, the odds were highly in favour of the Eoin Morgan’s men, who were favourites to win the title for the second time.
However, the young West Indian all-rounder hit four consecutive sixes against England’s Ben Stokes and won the trophy for his side.
The 27-year-old has so far just represented his national team in two Tests, nine ODIs and eight T20s, but with his astonishing performance in the final of the mega event, he is tipped to represent his country for many years to come.
With his place in the ODI team still not guaranteed, there are chances that Braithwaite will be available to feature in most part of the tournament next year.
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