PSL 4: Peshawar Zalmi Preview

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In most facets, Peshawar Zalmi is the most vibrant of all the franchises locking horns in the PSL and it was always expected to be, considering it had Haier Pakistan's Javed Afridi and the bubbly Daren Sammy at its helm. All the way from bagging the most prized of Pakistani celebrities (Hamza Ali Abbasi, Mahira Khan, Gul Panra etc) as their brand ambassadors to initiating crazy challenges/fun trends (remember the "Shaving off Hair Bet" and the "Selfie Celebration") to viral videos of the players dancing to popular tunes in the dressing room, the team atmosphere is always filled to the brim with the "party" spirit. But with all the glitz and glamour, PZ real focus seems to have a very talent-centric alignment, as does their slogan (#KhpalTeam = Youth/Young team). From holding developing programs in the Khyber Agency to organizing second-tier tournaments to develop those identified talents, PZ is in the process of churning out some genuine superstars for Pakistan. We hope they succeed in their mission!

LAST SEASON'S PERFORMANCE

In unarguably the most mercurial of all the formats in the game, Peshawar Zalmi has consistently shown its worth. It’s consistency (& stocks) have followed an even steeper upward trajectory since the appointment of the two-time ICC T20 World Cup winning captain, Daren Sammy, as the skipper of Zalmi.

In just three renditions of PSL, Zalmi has already the topped the table at the group stage twice, played the final two times as well, and one of them even culminated in silverware back in 2017.

In addition to steady results, the #YellowStorm has also consistently laced the tournament with thrillers and crunching games. Many consider Quetta Gladiators as PZ's nemesis and the nail-biters that are produced in their wake certainly validate that. In the first two seasons, QG had the upper hand as both the 1-run victories were casketed in their favour, but PZ did finally manage to snap the string last year, when, despite Anwar Ali's heroics, they secured a 1-run victory of their own. Great stuff for the fans!

Last year, the Yellow team were in a bit of bother in the group stages, and at one point, their early exit was almost inevitable. But a late-order blitz from the inspiring Daren Sammy rejuvenated the team and in turn, the campaign, as the franchise then went on to win four games on the trot and made the Final versus Islamabad United.

Last year, Kamran Akmal was PZ’s most prolific of batsman with most of Zalmi’s victories conditional on his blitzkrieg at the top and in the Powerplay. The 37-year old was also the sole centurion of the last season, and the 2nd highest run-scorer of the tournament, second only to Luke Ronchi. Such was his domination (& Ronchi's) that outcome of the final could have easily been boiled down to the victor in the K. Akmal v Ronchi mini-contest. He ended the tournament with 425 runs in just 13 innings with five 50+ scores and a strike-rate of 153.

Wahab Riaz, along with his regal 'stache, was the highest wicket-taker for PZ last season and tied with Faheem Ashraf for the highest in the entire tournament. The, now, veteran speedster picked up 18 wickets at 19.11 apiece and at a miserly economy of 6.90. Styling the Mitchell Johnson moustache clearly reinvigorated him!

Last season, Peshawar Zalmi played 13 games and emerged victorious on 7 occasions. Overall, they have won 19 matches out of the 33 bearing results. That gives them a win percentage of 57.6% - second highest of all the franchises.

OFF-SEASON

Some big news emerged from the Zalmi camp in November, as the veteran PCT all-rounder, Mohammad Hafeez, announced his departure from the franchise after downing the Yellow shirt for three successful years since its inception.

Daren Sammy also paid an early visit to Pakistan as he travelled to the beautiful city of Peshawar for the kit and anthem launch of PZ for PSL 2019.

Also... He now has first-hand experienced as to how we express passion and love. Why hasn't this guy already been given honorary citizenship?!

Retentions

Rules- Teams were allowed to retain a maximum of 10 players going into this year’s Draft. *Platinum: Hassan Ali, Wahab Riaz

  • Diamond: Daren Sammy, Kamran Akmal
  • Gold: Liam Dawson
  • Silver: Umaid Asif, Khalid Usman
  • Emerging: Sameen Gul

DRAFT

The PSL Draft for the 2019 season was held at 20th November 2018 in Islamabad.

  • Rules- Each team had to complete their main squad of 16 players, in addition to four supplementary players. Peshawar Zalmi, having already retained 8 players, needed to pick 1 player in the Platinum and 1 in Diamond, 2 in Gold, 3 in Silver and 1 in the Emerging Category.
  • Platinum: The franchise league darling, Kieron Pollard, was picked in this category. The rationale behind the decision was to induce some much-needed fire-power into the middle-late order.
  • Diamond: With the departure of experienced Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi before that, Zalmi probably were probably aware of the lack of local experience in the team, and hence, they roped in the 2-time PSL winning captain, Misbah-ul-Haq. Quite conveniently, as the lovable Kaptaan's decision to enter the draft and withdraw from mentorship coincided nicely with Hafeez's exit.
  • Gold: Dawid Malan and Umar Amin were picked. Always nice to throw stylish left-handers into the mix.
  • Silver: The hard-hitting Sohaib Maqsood and wicketkeeper-batsman Jamal Anwar. The 35-year old county import, Wayne Madsen, was most likely picked to steady the ship.
  • Emerging: Nabi Gul, a youngster who has impressed many in the limited chances he's had at the domestic scene.
  • Supplementary: Ibtisam Sheikh, the young leg-spinning and potential allrounder who impressed last season was picked in the category. Samiullah Afridi, Andre Fletcher (Waqar Salamkheil’s replacement), and Chris Jordan round out the squad.

Squad for 2019

  • Batsmen: Misbah-ul-Haq, Dawid Malan (England), Umar Amin, Samiullah Afridi, Nabi Gul, Sohaib Maqsood, Wayne Madsen (England)
  • All-Rounders: Kieron Pollard (Windies), Daren Sammy (Windies), Liam Dawson (England)
  • Wicketkeepers: Kamran Akmal, Jamal Anwar, Andre Fletcher (Windies)
  • Fast bowlers: Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Sameen Gul, Umaid Asif, Chris Jordan (England)
  • Spinners: Khalid Usman, Ibtisam Sheikh

Best Possible XI:

1) Kamran Akmal (W)

2) Andre Fletcher (Windies)

3) Misbah-ul-Haq

4) Sohaib Maqsood

5) Kieron Pollard (Windies)

6) Liam Dawson (England)

7) Daren Sammy (Windies) (C)

8) Ibtisam Sheikh

9) Hasan Ali

10) Wahab Riaz

11) Sameen Gul


Written by Omar Khan

You can find out more about him on his Twitter profile here!