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In the span of just a little over three years, Pakistan Super League has gained good recognition in global cricket picture. The fourth edition of the tournament is beginning on 14th February with Islamabad United taking on Lahore Qalandars in the opening game. The second day in the competition will feature two games, the first of which will be played between Karachi Kings and Multan Sultans. These are early days in the month-long tournament and although teams can bounce back despite poor starts, momentum early in the tournament can make a huge difference. Both the sides haven't really done well in the history of the tournament and will be looking to get off to a flying start. With both the sides almost matched on paper, we expect it to be a cracker of a contest.
The Kings have been more in despair than joy over the course of the last three seasons. They've won just 12 out of 31 games and faced defeats 17 times. Although they improved massively after a forgetful first couple of seasons, the improvement was just not enough to get them to the top three.
With experienced personnel in Mohammad Amir, Babar Azam, and Imad Wasim, their management and fans will be hoping for a better campaign in the current edition. Kings have also had some problems with their leadership which is evident by their changing skippers across the seasons.
The Kings have released a couple of veterans of the game, but have managed to retain Babar Azam, Imad Wasim, and Mohammad Amir this season. With Colin Munro, Ravi Bopara and Usman Shinwari available as well, they have a strong core for the season ahead.
Barring Babar Azam, who appears to be in form of his life, will be a vital cog to their plans with the bat. However, they lack a power hitter who can swing his bat around with the word go. They have a strong batting lineup, at least on paper, but will have to be careful in picking the correct playing eleven and if they can do that, they will be tough to beat not only in the upcoming match but also in the competition to follow.
Liam Livingstone, Babar Azam, Colin Ingram, RS Bopara, Mohammad Rizwan, Sikandar Raza, SI Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Usman Khan, Sohail Khan, Umer Khan.
The Sultans are the newest side in the tournament, having the experience of just one season, and has also seen the change in ownership for the ongoing season. They've had a rather interesting kind of campaign in the history of the tournament.
They got off to a stupendous start last year, winning most of their matches in the first half, but lost steam in the second half, losing four matches on the trot. They eventually failed to qualify for the playoffs and finished fifth on the points table.
In this edition, the Sultans appear to be banking heavily on experience. They've included four players over the age of 35 which lends plenty of experience to the side. With the likes of Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Irfan, Shoaib Malik and Dan Christian to mentor young talent in Junaid Khan and Mohammad Abbas, they have an excellent amalgamation of youth and experience.
Additionally, they happen to have the services of Andre Russell and Chris Green who did reasonably well in BPL and BBL respectively not long ago. Although T20 is known to be a game of youngsters, the experience can really be a game-changer if used well - something which we saw with Chennai Super Kings in IPL 2018. On paper, they are a strong side but will need a good contribution from both their young and experienced bunch for them to do well in the tournament.
Shan Masood, Tom Moores, Laurie Evans, Shoaib Malik, Andre Russell, SMSK Afridi, Christopher Green, Junaid Khan, Hammad Azam, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Ilyas.
The early matches in a long tournament are always pretty important. While almost all the teams are keen to get their combination right going forward in the competition, having won in their kitty allows any team the freedom to persist with the first eleven for much longer. While the Sultans are banking on experience in this edition, the Kings are more reliant on their youngsters. The Kings have a strong group of local-talent which so often plays a big role in the shortest format of the game. With Babar Azam & Colin Ingram available in fine form along with the experience Imad Wasim & Mohammad Amir in the bowling department, the Kings are more likely to emerge victorious in the second encounter of the Pakistan Super League 2019.