Quetta Gladiators PSL 2023 Preview
Quetta Gladiators and Islamabad United were separated only by run rate in the league phase of PSL 2022. The head to head record was 1-1. They each had four wins and six defeats. They were, in short, very similar last season.
But only one side is in the grip of Ifti Mania.
His 78 runs came from four innings last season, at a terrifying strike rate of 205.
Quetta Gladiators play four of their first five PSL 8 games in Karachi, once each against the other five PSL sides.
There’s only one player the National Stadium crowd will be there to see, and that’s Iftikhar Ahmed.
Quetta will be hoping to ride the Ifti Mania wave to a better finish than last season’s fifth place.
How will the Gladiators line up?
With Ahsan Ali injured and out of the PSL, Mohammad Hafeez has been picked as his replacement.
The veteran all-rounder was the player of the match in the final last year. However, he wasn’t picked in the draft for this year’s tournament.
Iftikhar Ahmed is in sparkling form with 351 runs striking at 157 in the Bangladesh Premier League. The highlight was a 45-ball 100* against Rangpur Riders, a blazing knock that included nine sixes.
He also made couple of important fifties against India and South Africa in the T2o World Cup and blasted Wahab Riaz for six sixes in an over in a recent exhibition match against Peshawar Zalmi.
If that wasn’t enough, Iftikhar can also chip in with a few overs.
Young Will Smeed was excellent in a six-game stint for Quetta last season, amassing 240 runs striking at 137.
Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed continues in the middle order while all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz is vital for Quetta’s balance.
The latter took six wickets last season but was positively incendiary with the bat. His 78 runs came from four innings last season, at a terrifying strike rate of 205.
Quetta’s key weapon with the ball is Sri Lanka’s Wanindu Hasaranga, a world class T20 spinner at the top of his game.
He claimed 15 wickets in the inaugural International League T20, the third highest in the competition. Incredibly, he went wicketless in just one of his nine innings.
The impressive duo of Naseem Shah and Mohammad Hasnain are the main seamers while young spinner Aimal Khan is one of Quetta’s Emerging players.
Overseas players for the Gladiators
The top order is where you’ll find almost all of Quetta’s international stars.
The explosive Jason Roy is the key batter for Quetta. New Zealand’s Martin Guptill had a quiet BBL season for the Melbourne Renegades with 165 runs from 11 innings striking at 107. He’ll be looking to improve on that in PSL 2023.
Young Will Smeed was excellent in a six-game stint for Quetta last season, amassing 240 runs striking at 137. He was the third top scorer for the ‘purple force’ in 2022.
All-rounder Odean Smith had a decent season with the ball for an MI Cape Town side that finished bottom in the inaugural SA20. His nine wickets at an economy of 8.17 will hold him in good stead in PSL 8.
South Africa’s Dwaine Pretorius is in the squad as Smith’s replacement. He was the joint-top wicket taker for Durban’s Super Giants in the SA20 with 10 scalps although was expensive with an economy of 10.
Will Jacks was one of the stars of the SA20. His 270 runs came at a staggering strike rate of 201. He’s a replacement for Jason Roy.
The seamer Naveen-ul-Haq is in Afghanistan’s squad for the T20I series against the UAE. Sri Lanka’s Nuwan Thushara is his replacement.
How did the Gladiators go last season?
The Quetta Gladiators finished fifth last season, with an identical win/loss record and points total to Islamabad United in fourth.
Quetta’s most impressive win in PSL 2022 was a successful chase of 205 against eventual champions Lahore Qalandars, powered by Roy’s 116 (57).
Taking the next step into the play-offs will be the main aim this season.
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Top performers for the Gladiators in PSL 7
Roy was Quetta’s top scorer last season. His 303 runs came in just six innings and his strike rate was a very healthy 170.
Roy and Smeed were two of Quetta’s three top scorers in 2022. The domestic batters will have to step up for Quetta to find more consistency in PSL 2023.
Naseem Shah was far and away the side’s top wicket taker last year. His 14 wickets were eight more than Mohammad Nawaz and James Faulkner (both six) in joint second.
Still only 20 years old, he’s already an able leader of the attack. Quetta need him to deliver again for success in 2023.
Islamabad United PSL 2023 Preview
Much like Peshawar Zalmi, Islamabad United visit three of the four PSL 8 venues in their first five games.
Highlights from the Islamabad show on the road are their games against Multan Sultans at Multan and Lahore Qalandars at Lahore in their first five.
Islamabad made it as far as the second Eliminator last season. They knocked out Peshawar in the first play-off game before falling to the Qalandars in the second.
Islamabad United have the firepower to out-hit anyone in the PSL.
In fact, that will be the question that defines Islamabad’s season – can they beat the best to be the best?
They played the Sultans and the Qalandars five times last season and lost all five games. Islamabad got nothing from the PSL’s best teams and correcting that record will be their focus in 2023.
How will Islamabad line up?
Islamabad United have the firepower to out-hit anyone in the PSL.
They have a power-packed top order, with New Zealand’s Colin Munro and Ireland’s Paul Stirling available for the entire tournament.
PSL stalwart Alex Hales will join up with the group from 26 February.
Azam Khan and captain Shadab Khan will keep the scoring rate up through the middle, especially against spin.
Shadab also had an outstanding T20 World Cup with the ball in October-November and will shoulder much of the spin bowling load.
Left arm spinner Zafar Gohar and bespectacled wonder and recent Test debutant Abrar Ahmed are the other slow bowling options.
The finisher Asif Ali is usually good for a late blitz. He had a poor season in BBL 12 with just 79 runs from 8 innings at an average of 9 and will look to bounce back in PSL 8.
Four Islamabad batters made 200 runs or more last season. Incredibly, the lowest strike rate of those four was Azam Khan’s 141.
Islamabad’s attack is dominated by seam; a strongest XI potentially includes only Shadab as a frontline spinner. Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Wasim Jr, and Hasan Ali are the main domestic quicks.
All three were solid rather than spectacular last season; between them, they took 26 wickets at 36 in 2022. But the latter two in particular leaked runs.
Hasan Ali went at 10.84 runs an over last season, Mohammad Wasim Jr was an even more exorbitant 11.20. The pair must keep things tight this time.
Overseas players for Islamabad
England’s Tom Curran is available for the whole season and rounds out the seam attack.
All-rounder Moeen Ali is in the squad but international commitments will keep him busy. His replacement is South African top order bat Rassie van der Dussen, who is available for the league phase.
Seamer Gus Atkinson is available at the start of the tournament. He’s a replacement for wicketkeeper Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who’s in the Afghanistan squad for the T20I series against the UAE.
Left arm seamer Fazalhaq Farooqi is also involved in that series and will be available for Islamabad later in the season.
How did Islamabad go last season?
Islamabad United were excellent entertainment value last, putting on scores of 170 or more eight times.
But there were underlying frailties.
In 2022, they lost more games than they won and their record against the top sides was poor.
There will be fireworks when Islamabad take the field this season, but the real test will be converting that excitement into consistent results.
Top performers for Islamabad in PSL 7
Shadab Khan was a class apart with the ball last season.
His haul of 19 wickets at an economy of 6.46 was the second best in PSL 7 behind Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Four Islamabad batters made 200 runs or more last season. Hales was top of that list with 355. Incredibly, the lowest strike rate of those four was Azam Khan’s 141.
In fact, Islamabad had hitting throughout their order, batting all the way to number ten.
Asif Ali struck at 130 for his 137 runs while Faheem Ashraf went at an eye-popping 177 for his 121 runs.
Encouragingly, they’ve maintained the depth in batting from last season. Islamabad are well equipped to take games to the wire.
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