The opening match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2020 has Quetta Gladiators in it, which is pretty understandable since they are the defending champs. But the clash’s other party is Islamabad United, whose presence in the opening fixture we’re still waiting to get clarity on.
In any case, the bots decided to come up with this matchup for PSL opener, and so we’ll see the federal capital lock horns with the provincial capital tonight at National Stadium in Karachi at 9pm.
The Gladiators have lost the least number of matches (16) over the first four PSLs. They haven’t always delivered in the finals (2 losses, 1 wins) but they have made the most finals.
Where the Gladiators have stuttered, United have excelled. They have made two PSL finals and won both.
Although Islamabad United have won more PSL titles (2) than anyone else, they have a losing record against Quetta Gladiators — the most consistent side in the PSL with a league-high win ratio of 61.9 per cent.
In their nine PSL encounters, Quetta have won five and Islamabad four. However, United won when it matters the most, beating the Gladiators by six wickets in the final of the inaugural PSL in 2016.
Islamabad United: Shadab Khan (captain), Faheem Ashraf, Asif Ali, Luke Ronchi, Hussain Talat, Amad Butt, Musa Khan, Dale Steyn, Colin Ingram, Colin Munro, Rumman Raees, Rizwan Hussain, Phil Salt, Zafar Gohar, Akif Javed, Ahmed Safi Abdullah, Saif Badar, Dawid Malan.
Quetta Gladiators: Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain), Mohammad Nawaz, Shane Watson, Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal (suspended), Mohammad Hasnain, Ahsan Ali, Naseem Shah, Jason Roy, Ben Cutting, Fawad Ahmed, Sohail Khan, Tymal Mills, Abdul Nasir, Arish Ali Khan, Azam Khan, Keemo Paul (partial tournament), Khurram Manzoor, Zahid Mehmood (partial tournament)
On paper, it’s pretty clear that Sarfaraz Ahmed’s Quetta Gladiators, even after Umar Akmal's suspension, have an edge. Their championship winning squad has been bolstered by Ben Cutting, Tymal Mills and Sohail Khan — a case of the rich getting richer.
Meanwhile, United are led by Shadab Khan, for whom this would be the first foray into leadership at a substantial level. They have the hit-and-miss Asif Ali; Faheem Ashraf who comes alive in PSLs but has been pretty silent at the national level this past year; Dale Steyn who isn’t here yet; Rumman Raees who’s been injured an awful lot; Luke Ronchi who’s 39, and the two Colins: Munro and Ingram — the former of which was pretty disappointing for Karachi Kings in his last PSL stint.
The Gladiators should take the win here barring a mild upset.