Karachi Kings desperate to find Babar some support

12:50 PM ETUmar FarooqPakistan correspondent, ESPNcricinfo FacebookTwitterFacebook MessengerPinterestEmailprintHistory

Karachi Kings have offered great cry and little wool over the last three seasons. In 31 games, they have lost 17 and won only 12. Having finished the inaugural season in 2016 with seven losses and two wins, they recovered well to win five games each in 2017 and 2018, but were never able to make it to the top three. This despite sourcing impressive personnel such as Mohammad Amir, Babar Azam and Imad Wasim.

That suggests the Kings have not been able to perform as a team; that they rely on those individual stars for nearly all of their threat. There has also been considerable confusion over who leads the side. Shoaib Malik had the responsibility in the first year, but given the slew of defeats, the captaincy changed hands between him, Ravi Bopara and Kumara Sangakkara. Shahid Afridi had a go as well, having signed up with them ahead of the second season but was released in November 2018.

Team overview

The Kings had released some of their top-flight players such as Afridi and Eoin Morgan, but retained Mohammad Rizwan, Usman Shinwari, Colin Munro, Bopara and the trio of Amir, Babar and Imad.

They have also brought in Zimbabwe’s Sikandar Raza, Tasmania rookie Aaron Summers, Melbourne Stars’ opener Ben Dunk, and England allrounder Liam Livingstone.

Weakness

Their flamboyant – if one-dimensional – style of batting notwithstanding, the lack of power hitters in the middle order is a worry. Babar is in the form of his life at the moment, but the Kings’ reliance on him alone is unlikely to take them far. Their middle-order strength comes from Imad and Bopara, but neither of them have found their rhythm lately. So, even though they boast a strong line-up on paper, will they be able to show their firepower in key situations?

Strengths

Their sizzling bowling attack, led by Amir, who took a hat-trick in the 2016 tournament. Although T20 cricket is often about big runs, a solid bowling unit such as the Kings’ is what makes a side formidable. The quality seam of Amir and the blazing speed of Shinwari combines well with a spin department as rich an any. Imad’s left-arm darts, Usama Mir’s excellent legbreaks and the novelty of Abrar Ahmed, who is yet to unleash his best in the PSL, form a potent wicket-taking force.

Key foreign player

Colin Ingram. He’s a powerful presence at the top of the order and he’s got the experience of playing in T20 leagues around the world, including that of captaining the Adelaide Strikers in the BBL. His big-hitting abilities and composure drawn from years of playing the shortest format will be great assets as the Kings push for a maiden title.

Under-the-radar local players

Abrar’s carom ball has bewildered many batsmen in Pakistan but a lower-back injury sidelined him for nearly 18 months of competitive cricket. A product of Zone 3 in Karachi, he was picked by former captain Rashid Latif from an inter-district tournament. A right-arm offspinner with some mystery balls up his sleeves, he last played in the PSL, against Quetta Gladiators, in February 2017.

Squad

Overseas: Colin Munro (New Zealand), Colin Ingram (South Africa), Ravi Bopara (England), Sikandar Raza (Zimbabwe), Aaron Summers (Australia), Ben Dunk (Australia), Liam Livingstone (England).

Local: Mohammad Amir, Babar Azam, Imad Wasim, Usman Shinwari, Mohammad Rizwan, Awais Zia, Usama Mir, Sohail Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Ali Imran, Abrar Ahmed, Aamer Yamin, Jaahid Ali, Umer Khan

Coaching staff

Wasim Akram (president), Mickey Arthur (head coach), Mohammad Masroor (fielding Coach), Faisal Iqbal (batting consultant), Ibrahim Qureshi (trainer)