Despite being the most expensive franchise, having some of the biggest names and being one of the two biggest city franchises in the PSL, Karachi Kings have not performed anywhere near expectations. Karachi has only won 7 matches out of their 19 and have never reached the final which constitutes the second worst win percentage (36%) in the tournament. In the inaugural tournament, they made it to the playoffs with just 2 wins out of 8 due to the forgiving nature of the tournament, in the second tournament they fared somewhat better finishing at 3 getting through to the second round of the playoffs. They’ll be hoping that the trajectory of their progress heightens quickly in the third season.
Karachi had a middling campaign in 2017 it was a definite improvement over 2016, they finished third and were able to beat Islamabad in the first playoff but then were comprehensively beaten by Peshawar in the second eliminator. Karachi had plenty of standout performers such as Babar Azam who was Karachi’s highest run scorer with 291 runs at an average of 32 (second overall) although his strike rate was a mere 112. Karachi had another star with the bat Kieron Pollard who scored 201 runs at a strike rate of 171 and played a crucial hand in many Karachi wins. Overall, however, Karachi battings stats were a mixed bag, they did have the second highest batting average but the runs per over and boundary percentage was just third best(1). The bowling side of things was also quite similar, the highest wicket-taker was from Karachi; Sohail Khan, who bagged 16 wickets at an average of 15 and an economy rate of 7.61 and the young leg-spinner Usama Mir also impressed by picking up 12 wickets and ending joint third. Nevertheless, despite having two bowlers in the top 5 wicket takers, their overall stats were far from impressive, they had the second worst bowling average, economy rate and boundary percentage, they can take consolation from the fact there spin bowling numbers were better than their seam bowling numbers(1). Throughout the 2017 campaign Karachi had plenty of standout performers with both bat and ball but they never really came together as a unit to be successful.
Karachi made some big moves this year before the draft even took place, they roped in Shahid Afridi himself in what was the biggest trade in PSL history and they also traded Sohail Khan in exchange for Mohammed Rizwan. They also had many big let-offs including Shoaib Malik, Sangakarra and Pollard in an effort to really reshape their squad, including the decision to name a new captain in Imad Wasim. Karachi’s squad has definitely been shaken up but it still feels familiar, it is difficult to see what Karachi’s management was trying to change from last year, it just feels like they were looking to replace the players they let go. That is not to say that this squad is to be taken lightly, far from it, they have the number one T20 batsman in Babar Azam who will be well assisted by the likes of Khurram Manzoor, Colin Ingram and Joe Denly at the top. In the middle order, they’ll be able to choose from Eoin Morgan (partially available), Mohammed Rizwan and Ravi Bopara. They also have an impressive range of all-rounders to select from including Shahid Afridi, Imad Wasim and David Weise, it also helps that all of these will add tremendous power and depth to Karachi’s lower order. Their bowling attack boasts the likes of Mohammed Amir, Tymal Mills, Usama Mir, Mohammed Irfan jr and Tabish Khan. Overall their squad packs plenty of star power and numerous options to choose from.
Karachi Kings have an excellent spin trio that covers all the bases, they have Imad Wasim who can take the new ball and keep the batsmen in check during the powerplay, then they have the young wrist spinner who can pick wickets in the middle overs and finally they have Afridi who can be brought on at any time to pick up wickets or restrict the batsmen. In T20, wrist spinners are becoming a valuable commodity and Karachi having two wrist spinners who are very different from each other is quite the luxury. Moreover, two of their spinners are also all-rounders which makes it even easier to fit them into the eleven. Spin always plays an important role in the PSL and Karachi have all the tools to ensure they are ready for it.
Karachi’s batting depth, especially in the middle order, will be a worry for them, they don’t seem to have a lot of options to choose from. Eoin Morgan won’t be available for most of the tournament which means the burden of runs is going to fall mostly on Mohammed Rizwan and the allrounders. It isn’t really clear who’ll bat 3, 4 or 5 for them either so Karachi will be hoping their openers Ingram and Babar can score the bulk of the runs and then the lower order can provide the acceleration.
Players to look out for:
After winning the PSL with Peshawar Zalmi, Shahid Afridi agreed to move to Karachi Kings in the biggest trade of the PSL. The 37-year-old played a major role for Zalmi scoring 177 runs at a strike rate of 173 (the highest for anyone who faced over a 100 deliveries in PSL 2017), he also scored his maiden T20 ton last year for Hampshire and was a major asset to the team throughout the tournament. Afridi has not only retained his ability to pull in huge crowds but also his ability to produce match winning performances and Karachi will be hoping they’ll see a few of those in this tournament.
Karachi traded the highest wicket taker of PSL 2017, Sohail Khan for Mohammed Rizwan, on the surface it looks like a puzzling deal but if you look closely it’s an excellent deal for Karachi. Not only does that give them the option of a Pakistani wicketkeeper and arguably the second best Pakistani wicketkeeper batsman but they also gained an excellent batsman at the death overs. In the PSL 2017 Mohammed Rizwan had the second best strike rate in the death overs (2), he is sure to add plenty to the Karachi Kings squad and especially give them some much needed flexibility in selection.
My Starting 11:
- Colin Ingram
- Babar Azam
- Joe Denly
- Mohammed Rizwan (wk)
- Muhammed Taha (E)
- David Weise
- Shahid Afridi
- Imad Wasim
- Mohammed Amir
- Tymal Mills
- Usama Mir
I think Karachi are going to have a few headaches in forming this 11, Ideally they would want Khurram Manzoor in the top 3 and Imad at 8 but that leaves no room for an emerging player, the ideal player would be mohammed Irfan jr. someone who is experienced but that would mean thinning their batting and if Irfan can’t play it would mean either playing Muhammed Taha as a batsman or Hasan Mohsin as an all-rounder and if they don’t want an inexperienced batsman batting at the top they’d have to bat someone like Bopara or Denly at the top although their all-rounders do give them plenty of options.
Karachi have only added to their star power with Shahid Afridi but they will be hoping their team delivers on the field and they finally make their first final and get to play in front of their home crowd.