Qalandars search for maiden crown, Peshawar look to move past Kamran controversy

Lahore Qalandars

Captain: Shaheen Shah Afridi Coach: Aaqib Javed Full squad: Shaheen Shah Afridi (capt), Fakhar Zaman, Rashid Khan, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hafeez, David Wiese, Abdullah Shafique, Ben Dunk, Mathew Potts, Kamran Ghulam, Dean Foxcroft, Sohail Akhtar, Zeeshan Ashraf, Ahmed Danyal, Zaman Khan, Maaz Khan, Samit Patel, Syed Faridoun, Imran Randhawa, Akif Javed.

Last season: Fifth
Last season, Qalandars won five out of their first six games. They had to win just one more game to make the playoffs, but ended up losing the last four, finishing with the second-poorest net run-rate. They are the only team in the league in the last six years not to win the title. Qalandars’ best finish came in the fifth edition, when they reached the final, losing to Karachi Kings. But other than that season, they have generally finished near the bottom despite having a competitive roster.

What’s changed for the season?
Qalandars have managed to keep their core intact, with Rashid Khan returning as their key overseas signing, and Shaheen Shah Afridi given a new role as captain. They will be concerned about the form of Mohammad Hafeez, though, because he has struggled to get going after getting among the runs in 2020. Qalandars have also picked up Yorkshire batter Harry Brook to strengthen the middle order, but he will miss the first three games, allowing a chance for Durham fast bowler Mathew Potts to chip in.

Meanwhile, Otago allrounder Dean Foxcroft, who missed two successive domestic seasons in New Zealand because of Covid-enforced border restrictions, will be hoping to revive his career. Foxcroft’s last competitive game was in March 2020.

Player to watch
Afridi the fast bowler won the ICC’s prestigious Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy and was recognised as the ICC Men’s Cricketer of the Year for 2021. He took 78 wickets in 36 internationals at an average of 22.20 last year. His best performances came in the T20 World Cup, where he picked up seven wickets in six matches, including those of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli in the group-stage fixture against India, helping steer Pakistan to the semi-finals. He will don a new hat this PSL season when he comes out leading Qalandars, captaining a team at the senior level for the very first time.

“This captaincy is going to help me grow as a player,” Afridi said. “There is no pressure right now but anything that comes my way will work as a learning experience. I am the main bowler for Pakistan and often get high-pressure situations. So, being a captain here in PSL, I will definitely be tested and going to find myself in tougher situations, but this eventually makes me stronger. This learning phase will help me in the Pakistan team.”

Key stats

Since the start of 2021, Rashid has bagged 85 wickets in the 57 T20s he has played, 24 wickets more than anyone else. Rashid’s recent surge at taking wickets came after picking up only 121 wickets in 101 T20s he played across 2019 and 2020, where he struck every 19.1 balls compared to once in 15.2 balls since 2021. However, his economy in both periods remains similar – 6.62 (2019-2020) and 6.6 (since 2021).