After a successful inaugural edition of the Pakistan Super League in 2016, the popular T20 series comes back for the 2nd season, with the first match starting on 9th February at Dubai, UAE. Islamabad United are the reigning champions and will surely see stiff competition from the other franchises this year during the month-long league, which could probably end with a title clash at Lahore if things go well. The teams have seen some revamps while most players have been retained due to their stellar performances last season. Here is a round-up on the different squads featuring in the PSL 2017 that have a mix of the old and some new energy infused; the tournament is sure to get more fan following this year in the UAE as well as back in Pakistan.
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The experienced captain Misbah-ul-Haq, who leads the national side with panache every time he is on the field, had led the team to a title finish in the inaugural edition of the PSL and will hope to do so again this year. They have a batting line-up that consists of players like the in-form Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif and the iconic all-rounder Shane Watson from Australia. Other all-rounders include Dwayne Smith and Andre-Russell, who had laid the foundation for the win in the final against Gladiators last season with a fine 3-wicket haul, and the duo can get the big runs too. Absence of Andre Russel due to a one-year ban is likely to hurt Islamabad's balance. Wicket-keeper batsman Brad Haddin along with Dwayne Smith had scored the winning runs last season to help the team lift the trophy and they could prove to be vital assets once again. The bowling squad has spin legend Saeed Ajmal, who along with the effective Samuel Badree, can make life difficult for opponents; speedsters Mohammad Irfan, Sami, Asif Ali and Rumman Raees add depth to the attack. This team can surely prove to be a formidable force to reckon with this year too.
Players to watch out for: Samuel Badree, Misbah ul Haq.
Outright Win Odds: 4.33 @ Bet365
Sarfraz Ahmed leads the side and having led the team successfully last year to emerge as favourites, will come back with more fervour and fighting spirit to avenge the defeat in the PSL 2016 final against United. The batting unit consists of famous names like Ahmed Shehzad, who was the top-scorer for the team last season, Kevin Pietersen, who has done superbly well in the recently concluded BBL series, all-rounders Rilee Rossouw, Thisara Perera, Nathan McCullum, Mahmudullah and the experienced Brad Hodge. Mahmudullah was one of the key players in Bangladesh Premier League and he can be handful here as well. They have a deep batting line-up and can come up with some ferocious performances this year too. The bowling attack will see spinners like Mohammad Nawaz, who was the leading wicket-taker for the team last year with 13 wickets, Zulfiqar Babar and McCullum in action. Speedsters Anwar Ali, Mir Hamza, Umar Gul and the T20 specialist Tymal Mills from England will bring variety to the attack and can be ruthless with their wicket-taking skills.
Players to watch out for: Kevin Pietersen, Mahmudullah.
Outright Win Odds: 4.50 @ Bet365
Having finished fourth last season with a dismal performance during the league, Karachi Kings have a new captain this year in the legendary Kumar Sangakkara, who can come out full throttle to help the team build a solid foundation with the bat. Batsmen like Shoaib Malik, star performer from last season Ravi Bopara, all-rounder Kieron Pollard and stalwarts like Chris Gayle and Mahela Jayawardene. The bowling squad consists of fast bowlers Mohammad Amir, Rahat Ali and Sohail Khan, who can combine well to demolish opponents with ease. Spinners Imad Wasim and Shoaib Malik could provide quick breakthroughs with their clever variations while speedsters like Ryan McLaren, Ravi Bopara and Pollard add depth to the attack. Sangakkara and Jayawardene can join hands to post a stiff challenge to any bowling attack here while the experienced seniors could combine well to see the team through. They have a good combination of pace and spin that can prove to be a tough nut to crack this time.
Players to watch out for: Chris Gayle, Mohammad Amir, Kieren Pollard.
Outright Win Odds: 5.00 @ Bet365
Having been one of the most expensive franchises last season but delivering a dismal performance on the field to finish last on the table, caused major embarrassment for the team leading to some restructure in the side; former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum will don the captain\u2019s hat and he will try to lead from the front. He has batting resources such as Umar Akmal, who got the big runs for the team last year, ODI captain Azhar Ali and the experienced all-rounder Grant Elliott. Bilawal Bhatti, James Franklin and Cameron Delport bring depth to the batting unit while bowlers like Sohail Tanvir and Aamer Yamin make their entry to the team this year and will be eager to bring their fast-bowling skills to the table. Spinners include the in-form Yasir Shah and Sunil Narine, who can wreak havoc on the opposition while Zafar Gohar, Elliott and Chris Green bring variety to the squad.
Players to watch out for: Sunil Narine, Brendon McCullum.Outright Win Odds: 3.75 @ Bet365
They had done well throughout the league last year but were knocked-out in the playoff\u2019s second qualifier losing the match against Islamabad United; they will try to do better this time around when it comes to a battle of nerves. T20 expert Darren Sammy will lead the side again and has the services of players like Shakib Al Hasan, Mohammad Hafeez, Shahid Afridi, Marlon Samuels, Tamim Iqbal, who was the team's leading scorer last year, Sohaib Maqsood and England T20 captain Eoin Morgan, who is in tremendous form now. The pace attack has the deadly trio of Imran Khan, Junaid Khan and Wahab Riaz, which can demolish the opponent right from the start while others like spinner Asghar, Hasan Ali and the consistent speedster Chris Jordan add depth to the contingent. They have plenty of all-rounders who can help the team edge past the opposition under crunch situation, a well-balanced team of batsmen and bowlers, and can surely be the team to look out for. Unavailability of Shakib al Hasan due to national commitments for first few days will be a cause of concern for the Zalmis.
Players to watch out for: Shahid Afridi, Tamim Iqbal.
Outright Win Odds: 4.50 @ Bet365
This edition of Pakistan Super League is expected to be tighter, considering the array of players and the improved balance of each side. Teams have bolstered their line-up as compared to the previous years. Defending champions, Islamabad United, looked good until they were shocked by Russel's ban. Brendon McCullum's captaincy has always been the talk-of-the-town and he can be a game-changer as he was for Brisbane Heat in BBL this year. With the services of brilliant all-rounders in Hafeez, Afridi and al Hasan, Peshawar, too look good contenders for the title.
However, Karachi King's batting certainly overpowers all teams, at least on paper, with stalwarts like Chris Gayle, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. They have good amalgamation of batting power and bowling strength with Rahat Ali and Mohammad Amir in the side. Largely because of the balance and the presence of match-winners, Karachi Kings appear to be the most likely winner of this year's PSL.