dLahore Qalandars are one of the only two teams in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) yet to win the trophy. In the ongoing edition of the PSL, Lahore Qalandars are placed at the 4th position. They have been very impressive having won 3 out of the 4 games so far. The top 4 teams all have 6 points each with Lahore having the lowest Net Run Rate among them, but having played one game less than the other teams. The runners-up from last season will look to go one step further and lift their maiden trophy.
Ahead of the resumption of the remainder of the season, Lahore Qalandars have announced Tim David and Sultan Ahmed as replacements. However, some key players including Joe Denly, David Wiese, and Samit Patel will be missing out as they will be unavailable due to various reasons.
As we near the start of the business end of the tournament, we look at how the Lahore-based team shapes up, based on their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats:
Also Read: PSL 6 to resume on June 1
Lahore Qalanders Squad:
Sohail Akhtar (c), Mohammad Hafeez, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Rashid Khan, Fakhar Zaman, James Faulkner, Haris Rauf, Tim David, Ben Dunk, Dilbar Hussain, Callum Fergusson, Zeeshan Ashraf, Salman Ali Agha, Mohammad Faizan, Maaz Khan, Zaid Alam, Seekuge Prasanna, Ahmed Danyal, Sultan Ahmed
Lahore Qalandars have one of the best pace attacks this season. Shaheen Afridi is unarguably the best all-format bowler for Pakistan at present and having someone like him in the side is a luxury not many sides enjoy. He is ably supported by Haris Rauf’s express pace and Ahmed Danyal’s hit-the-deck bowling. Faulkner will bring variety to the attack with his variations. Dilbar Hussain is a like-for-like backup for Haris Rauf and Ahmed Danyal. Overall, pace bowling seems to be the strongest area for Lahore Qalandars.
With Rashid Khan coming in, the spin bowling lies in safe hands. The Afghan wrist-spinner has been in great form in recent times and Lahore will be expecting him to bowl the crucial overs and deliver crucial breakthroughs.
Though there are not many apparent weaknesses in the Lahore side, one can say the batting order is relatively less explosive as compared to a few other sides. There are not many power hitters in the side who can tonk the ball from the word go. Also, when it comes to batting in the death, Lahore lacks a designated finisher. The Qalandars will hope that the middle order guys step up and play that role.
The lack of genuine all-rounders is another concern for Lahore Qalandars. They have top quality bowling and a very good batting lineup, but the lack of all-rounders, which means they lack of batting depth, is something they will be worried about.
In recent times, James Faulkner has not played much T20 cricket beyond the BBL. However, the PSL might prove to be a career-defining tournament for him, as a good season here might open the doors for him in many other leagues across the globe. Moreover, if he fires with both the bat and the ball, Lahore are in with a great chance of winning their maiden title. The same can be said for his fellow Australian Callum Fergusson, who is most likely to replace Joe Denly in the XI.
Lack of genuine finishers is something the management must be wary of. T20 cricket requires holding the nerve in tough situations. With the bat having good and experienced finishers is something all champion teams have. Lahore will hope the likes of Ben Dunk and Zeeshan Ashraf to step up do the finishing job for them. The much-needed experience in finishing is something that might haunt them at crucial stages of the tournament.
Lahore Qalandars Probable Playing XI:
Fakhar Zaman, Sohail Akhtar, Callum Fergusson, Mohammad Hafeez, Ben Dunk, Zeeshan Ashraf, James Faulkner, Rashid Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Ahmed Danyal, Haris Rauf
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(Image Courtesy: Lahore Qalandars Twitter)