KARACHI: Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise Multan Sultan may be the new kids on the block but they have made it clear that they are not here to just make up the numbers, instead setting their sights on claiming the title on their first attempt.
Multan Sultan owner Khizer Schon expressed his optimism about their chances of winning the PSL. “We have some of the best players available and we are hopeful of winning the title,” he told The Express Tribune. “We have some experienced players such as Ahmad Shahzad, Shoaib Malik and Imran Tahir. Add to that the presence of Wasim Akram on the bench and it’s clear that we have the required personnel to win.”
Schon has suggested that fans of both Multan and Lahore Qalandars will be marking their calendars for the two ‘Punjab derbies’. “Lahore and Multan have always been rivals; representing northern and southern Punjab respectively. So it’s no surprise that everyone is looking forward to that game.
The Multan owner also revealed that all his players are willing to travel to Pakistan for the games. “We selected only those players who were willing to come to the matches to be held in Lahore and Karachi,” he said. “Therefore we are confident of welcoming all of them to Pakistan if we reach that mark.”
However, despite expressing complete trust in his team, Schon did have one regret: the unavailability of Indian players for the PSL, stating that he would have wanted current and former Indian skippers Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni in his side.
We have the best players: Shan Masood
Pakistani opening batsman Shan Masood, speaking from Dubai, was similarly confident ahead of his side’s first game against Peshawar Zalmi in the opening match of PSL3.
“We are in good shape and have a team filled with experienced players,” he said. “Across the board we have some of the best players around, whether it be in batting, bowling, fielding or wicketkeeping.”
The left-hander warned his teammates though that they will face a baptism of fire. “We will be playing together for the first time so our opening game is going to be the toughest; especially since it will be against the defending champions,” he said. “There will be pressure on both sides though so it will come down to who avails their chances better.”
Eager to show what we can do, says Sohail Tanvir
Confidence seems to be available in high quantities within the Multan camp and veteran all-rounder Sohail Tanvir says they are eager to show the world what they can do.
“This is a team playing together for the first time so we want to show everyone what we are capable of and hopefully claim the title,” he said. “Players like Sangakkara, Kieron Pollard and Thisara Perera are sure to help the side. I will also be looking to use my experience to help the players.
‘Great honour to be part of Multan Sultans’
Pakistan Test bowler Muhammad Abbas may have been impressing in the longest format of the game but he is not known for his exploits in the shortest format. Understandable, then, that the Sialkot-born is eager to change that after being selected for his first PSL by Multan.
“Being a part of the PSL with this Multan side is a huge honour for me,” he said. “This is going to be my first PSL so I hope to impress in it in order to make a place for myself in the national T20I side.”
Abbas also praised the domestic league for helping unearth talent for the national side. “The last two editions of the PSL have given Pakistan some new players and I am sure that will be the case this time around too,” he said. “Our players and our coaches are extremely experiences so I will sure we will at least make it to the final, even though we just have a few days to train together before the league begins.”
‘Everyone is optimistic about title’
19-year-old Saif Badar, who was in the Lahore roster last year, also discussed the welcoming environment of the Multan team.
“Lahore was a good side but now I am part of Multan so I will do my best to help the team win,” he said. “Everyone here is incredibly supportive and we are all optimistic about winning the title.”