LAHORE, May 20 (APP):After a Covid-19 enforced break, the HBL Pakistan Super League 6 is all set to resume with the remaining 20 matches of tournament’s sixth edition taking place at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi.
The resumption of the PCB’s marquee event has been made possible through the untiring efforts of the PCB with the support of the UAE government, National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, Emirates Cricket Board and Abu Dhabi Sports Council.
All 24 matches of the 2016 season, 23 matches of the 2017 season, 31 matches of the 2018 season and 26 matches of the 2019 season were played in the UAE. The Sheikh Zayed Stadium staged four matches of the 2019 edition and this will be the first occasion of the stadium hosting a significant number of HBL PSL matches.
The entire 2020 season was played in Pakistan, while the 2021 edition was suspended on 4 March a day after the 14th match of the tournament was played at Karachi’s National Stadium.
The six captains are now ready to switch-on and dazzle at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in search of trophy winning glory.
At present, defending champions Karachi Kings top the points table with six points from five matches (three wins, two defeats). Interestingly, all top four sides, Kings, Peshawar Zalmi, Islamabad United and Lahore Qalandars accumulated six points in the Karachi-leg, with Kings taking the top-spot due to their better net run-rate.
The 2017 champions Peshawar Zalmi occupy the second-spot with as many points, wins and defeats as the Kings but an inferior net run-rate of 0.273 compared to Kings’ 0.697.
Islamabad United, the 2016 and 2018 champions, occupy the third-spot. They recorded three wins in four matches they played in Karachi, their net run-rate is 0.202.
Lahore Qalandars, the HBL PSL 2020 finalists, are in the fourth-spot with three wins and a defeat from their four matches with six points and a net run-rate of 0.085.
Multan Sultans are languishing in the fifth-spot with two points from five matches (one win, four defeats) and a net run-rate of -0.244 while the 2019 champions Quetta Gladiators are bottom-placed with a win and four defeats in five matches and a net run-rate of -0.936.
Karachi Kings captain Imad Wasim said on Thursday : “The HBL Pakistan Super League 6 restart is great news for both the players and especially the fans. We were at the top of the points table in Karachi and would like to be able to sustain the run of form in Abu Dhabi too.
“I am pleased with our replacements, especially Martin Guptill and Thisara Perera who have tons of T20 experience and have been proven match winners, as well as Najib, to add to a phenomenally gifted local core, led by our batting maestro Babar Azam.
“Sharjeel Khan did well for us in Karachi while Mohammad Amir as always will be spearheading our bowling attack. At a personal level, I look forward to leading my team from the front in our efforts of a successful defence of our title.”
Peshawar Zalmi captain Wahab Riaz said : “We are really excited about the resumption of the HBL Pakistan Super League 6. Like the rest of the sides, we also have a rejigged squad in terms of our foreign players.
“We are pleased with our replacements as the trio of Fabian Allen, Fidel Edwards and Rovman Powell provide us with good T20 options. We have some seasoned T20 campaigners, Shoaib Malik, Imam-ul-Haq and Kamran Akmal provide us with that experience and skill in the batting department backed by young Haider Ali.
“Mohammad Irfan, Umaid Asif and I would aim to lead the bowling attack in Abu Dhabi. Our young pacers Mohammad Imran and Amir Khan are also full of promise and potential and have a significant role to play for us in Abu Dhabi. We had a good run in Karachi and we would be aiming to further improve our performance in the remaining round matches to ensure a top two position which will help us in the play-offs.”
Islamabad United captain Shadab Khan said : “In the prevailing pandemic challenges, the return of the HBL PSL 6 is a massive boost for all of us. We have great memories of playing in the UAE, United of course won its first title there in 2016. The 2017 season proved to be a life changing one for me there, now four years later, I am really looking forward to leading my side in Abu Dhabi.
“We had an excellent run in Karachi and I am confident that the team will do equally well in Abu Dhabi. Usman Khawaja provides us good foreign batting support and I am sure he will be useful for us in the top-order.
“We have quality Pakistan players in our line-up, Asif Ali, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed and Faheem Ashraf provide us great depth and pedigree. Hasan Ali has made great all-round contributions in recent domestic and international appearances and is at present at the peak of his prowess, we hope he will continue his great form for us especially towards the business end of the tournament.”
Lahore Qalandars captain Sohail Akhtar said : “The Karachi-leg was incredibly competitive and despite our fourth-spot we are joint on points with the three teams ahead of us. This means that we have a real shot at one of the four play-off berths and that is really exciting.
This year also provides us the opportunity of changing our poor run in the UAE where we struggled to make an impression in the previous editions, we have some incredible local talent with a potent bowling attack which makes me very confident.
“As a captain, I am thrilled to have players like Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf in our ranks, they provide real firepower and depth to our squad. Callum Ferguson and James Faulkner lead the line-up of our foreign replacements and we have a quality roster overall as we look forward to welcoming them in Abu Dhabi.”
Multan Sultans captain Mohammad Rizwan said : “We had a tough run in Karachi, but we have the depth and pedigree in our squad to turn the tables around when we resume the action in the UAE. We would need to hit the ground running and produce the wins straight away to stay in contention for a play-offs spot and that is a challenge that will motivate both me and my squad.
“Obed McCoy and Rahmanullah Gurbaz provide us depth as our foreign replacements for the Abu Dhabi-leg.
“Players like Sohaib Maqsood, Usman Qadir, Sohail Tanvir and Shahid Afridi have the ability to turn a match on its head, they can with their individual and collective brilliance, bring us right back in the hunt in Abu Dhabi. I am hopeful that we will put smiles on the Sultans’ fans faces with a strong turnaround in the remainder of the tournament.”
Quetta Gladiators captain Sarfaraz Ahmed said : “The Karachi-leg was a challenging one for us as a team but we took a significant step in the last match before the suspension by becoming the first side to successfully defend a target in the HBL Pakistan Super League 6.
The last result is a positive that we will carry with us in Abu Dhabi, UAE has been a great venue for us as we have done outstandingly well there in the past.
“The conditions and the nature of the pitches have always suited us and we would really want to make it count as we cannot afford a slip-up. We look forward to welcoming Andre Russell to our ranks, his presence, rich T20 experience and sheer star power will definitely help us in the remainder of the tournament.
“Besides Russell, players like Azam Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Hasnain and Anwar Ali are match winners on their day and we need them to be at their very best in Abu Dhabi. Opener Usman Khan won us the last match in Karachi on his HBL PSL debut and I hope he will continue to play with the same fearless approach.”