The sixth edition of the Habib Bank Limited (HBL) Pakistan Super League (PSL) enters a one-day break after each team has played two matches to see where they stand.
While teams like SohailAkhtar-led Lahore Qalandars would be feeling confident after winning both opening encounter, Sarfaraz Ahmed’s Quetta Gladiators would be wondering what went wrong for them in their matches.
However, with the play-off spots still there for anyone to grab, any team can make a comeback with eight matches in hand.
Last year’s finalists Lahore would be feeling they are on cloud nine after starting their campaign with two wins on the trot and maximum points.
Their success can be accredited to the form of Hafeez, who has been instrumental in both chases with his scintillating hitting. His 33 off 26 in the match against Peshawar and then 73 off 33 balls against Quetta were a sign that he has hit peak at the age 40.
Meanwhile, in the bowling department, the presence of on-song Shaheen Shah Afridi is enough to rattle oppositions.
However, they will have to come up with a replacement for Afghan leggie Rashid Khan, who left to represent his national side.
Peshawar may have threatened their way into the first league match after captainWahabRiaz and coach Darren Sammy broke the Covid-19 protocols, but they can’t do the same to win the title this year.
After a four-wicket loss to Lahore, they came up good against Multan Sultans, but they will have to find consistency if they want to life the HBL PSL6 trophy.
They would also be concerned about captain Riaz’s form who gave away 51 runs off his four overs against Multan, however, opener ImamulHaq and Tom Kohler-Cadmore scoring runs for them in the 194-run chase would give them hope.
Two losses from two opening matches don’t spell right for newly appointed captain Mohammad Rizwan, after last year’s captain Shan Masood, who guided the team to a dominant HBL PSL5, was kicked out of the leadership role and the team as well.
Rizwan himself has been finding the middle of the bat, but others haven’t followed suit as the Sultans were outsmarted by Islamabad first and then Peshawar.
Multan lost both matches while defending, which shows that they forgot to strengthen their bowling department in the HBL PSL players’ draft.
Sarfaraz Ahmed’s reactions in the second loss against Lahore were enough to tell what the former champions would be feeling.
The wicketkeeper-batsman was seen shouting at his own players, had his face in his palms on occasions, and was angry so much that Moin Khan had to intervene to calm him down – a sign of frustration and despair.
If Quetta want to turn the tide in their favour, Sarfaraz will have to find him calmer groove in order to lead the charges against oppositions, rather than against him as a captain.
Also, they will have to find a replacement for outgoing hard-hitter Chris Gayle, who was called to the national side and can only join the team during the second part of the HBL PSL6 in Lahore.
Karachi and Islamabad
One team is the defending champion, while the other has two HBL PSL titles in their bag and both are eyeing the silverware.
Karachi’s team on paper is the best and most balanced one in the sixth edition of the HBL PSL, while Islamabad are equal, is not less potent than the ImadWasim-led side.
If someone is betting on one team to win the HBL PSL this year, they have to put their money on one the two sides.
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