PSL 4: Quetta Gladiators Preview
Quetta Gladiators are two-time finalists in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), though they lost the final on both occasions (the first two seasons). Their performances last year were middling at best; they won five games in all and lost six, finishing fourth in the league table. Their campaign was brought to an end in the Eliminator in Lahore, as they lost to Peshawar Zalmi by one run despite last-over heroics by Anwar Ali who almost pulled off a remarkable victory. The Nadeem Omar owned franchise was hit hard in the Pakistan leg of the tournament as Jason Roy, Shane Watson, Ben Laughlin and Kevin Pietersen all refused to tour Pakistan for the knockouts, leaving Sarfaraz Ahmed’s squad severely weakened as was the case in the PSL 2 final held at Lahore.
Gladiators’ top-scorer in PSL 3 was Shane Watson as he finished with 319 runs in 10 games; he was also the 5th highest run-scorer overall in the tournament. Sarfaraz Ahmed was 2nd for Quetta with 223 runs while Rilee Rossouw finished 3rd with 200 runs to his name.
Sarfaraz Ahmed’s side’s top wicket-taker, the 4th highest in the league was the enigma that is Rahat Ali, as he took 15 scalps. Shane Watson was 2nd for Quetta with 11 wickets while Anwar Ali and Mohammad Nawaz took 7 apiece.
The men in purple are considered as one of the three top sides in the PSL, with Islamabad United, Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators all having reached 2 finals apiece. However, Sarfaraz Ahmed is yet to make the winners’ podium and he’ll be hoping to change that this time around. A title win would give the Pakistan captain a timely boost with the World Cup just a few months away.
The conclusion of PSL 3 saw the retirement of a certain Kevin Pietersen, which meant the Gladiators would have to replace arguably their biggest star.
Ahead of the 2019 season, Quetta released the newest edition of their purple and gold playing kit.
In October, Quetta acquired the services of Sohail Tanvir as he left Multan Sultans. As a result of this trade, the Gladiators gave up their Diamond round pick to the Sultans.
In November, ahead of the PSL draft, Nadeem Omar’s side held a blockbuster trade with Lahore Qalandars as Rahat Ali and Hasan Khan departed Quetta, with Windies’ Sunil Narine and Umar Akmal going the other way.
According to the rules, teams were allowed to retain a maximum of 10 players going into this year's draft.
QUETTA GLADIATORS RETAINED:
Platinum: Sarfaraz Ahmed, Sunil Narine (trade)
Diamond: Shane Watson, Sohail Tanvir (trade), Mohammad Nawaz
Gold: Rilee Rossouw, Umar Akmal (trade)
Silver: Anwar Ali (relegated), Saud Shakeel
The PSL Draft for the 2019 season was held at 20th November 2018 in Islamabad.
Each team had to complete their main squad of 16 players, in addition to four supplementary players.
Quetta Gladiators, having already retained 9 players, needed to pick 1 player in the Platinum category, 1 in Gold, 3 in Silver and 2 in the Emerging Category.
The Gladiators had the last pick in Platinum round 2 and went with Windies all-rounder (and singer) Dwayne Bravo. The star has previously represented Lahore Qalandars in the PSL. Shortly after the draft, he announced that he will travel to Pakistan for the latter stage of the tournament.
With the third pick on Gold round 1, Quetta picked Australian leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed, who has fared well in recent T20 tournaments and provides a wealth of experience.
In Silver round 1, Gladiators had the second pick and went with left-arm spinner Mohammad Asghar, an economical bowler who also has the advantage of being a ‘local’ for Quetta.
In Silver round 2, Quetta had the first pick and they opted for all-rounder Danish Aziz. The left-hander was part of the Karachi Kings squad in PSL 3 but had limited opportunities to showcase his abilities.
In Silver round 3, Quetta again had the first pick and went with another Karachiite in Ahsan Ali. This will be the debut season for the promising young batsman.
Quetta had the second pick in both emerging rounds. In Round 1, they went with fast-bowler Ghulam Mudassar who has also previously been affiliated with Lahore Qalandars. In Round 2, they opted for exciting young fast-bowler Naseem Shah. However, Naseem suffered a back injury which led to Mohammad Hasnain replacing him in the squad; Hasnain was himself ruled out of PSL 3 previously due to injury, so he now has another chance to impress in the PSL.
In the supplementary round, Quetta opted for England pace-bowler Harry Gurney, opener Ahmed Shehzad, wicket-keeper batsman Azam Khan and Balochistan left-arm spinner Jalat Khan.
After the draft, Gladiators picked Dwayne Smith as cover for Dwayne Bravo who is expected to join the team late. Leg-spinner Max Waller was drafted in as cover for the injured Sunil Narine. For the 21st local pick, Quetta went with Mohammad Irfan jr. who has previously represented Lahore Qalandars and Karachi Kings.
SQUAD FOR 2019
Batsmen: Dwayne Smith (cover for Bravo) (Windies), Rilee Rossouw (South Africa), Umar Akmal, Saud Shakeel, Ahsan Ali, Ahmed Shehzad
All-rounders: Sunil Narine (Windies), Dwayne Bravo (Windies), Shane Watson (Australia), Mohammad Nawaz, Anwar Ali, Danish Aziz
Wicket-keepers: Sarfaraz Ahmed, Azam Khan
Fast-bowlers: Sohail Tanvir, Ghulam Mudassar, Mohammad Hasnain, Harry Gurney (England), Mohammad Irfan jr.
Spinners: Max Waller (cover for Narine) (England), Fawad Ahmed (Australia), Mohammad Asghar, Jalat Khan
BEST POSSIBLE XI
Shane Watson (overseas)
Rilee Rossouw (overseas)
Sunil Narine (overseas)
Dwayne Bravo (overseas)
Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain)
Written by Abdullah Ansari
You can find out more about him on his Twitter profile here!