The Pakistan Super League is all set for its third edition and is scheduled to be played between February 22 and March 25, 2018. This year, the tournament will feature six franchise teams - five from the previous season and one new addition in Multan Sultans. The entire league stage as well as the Qualifier will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates across two venues - Dubai International Cricket Stadium and Sharjah Cricket Stadium. The Eliminators and the Final will be played in Pakistan at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore and the National Stadium in Karachi respectively.
The league stage of the PSL 03 will follow a double round-robin format wherein each of the six teams will play every other team in the competition twice. The top four teams on the points table at the end of the league stage will advance to the playoffs. The top two teams will clash in the Qualifier, the winner of which will be confirmed a place in the Final, while the third and fourth ranked teams will face-off in Eliminator 1. The loser of the Qualifier will face the winner of Eliminator 1 in Eliminator 2. The loser of this game will get knocked out of the tournament while the winner will advance to play the title bout in the Final.
Read on for team previews, betting tips, betting odds and tournament predictions for the Pakistan Super League 2018...
Champions of the inaugural edition of the Pakistan Super League, Islamabad United will hunt for their second title as they enter the third season of the tournament. Though the franchise has retained Misbah ul Haq as skipper, there are some significant changes in the squad from the previous season. The most notable among them are the new recruits in Luke Ronchi and Sahibzada Farhan. The likes of Sam Billings and JP Duminy provide strength to the team's middle order. The United have however retained the bulk of their bowling line-up with Shadab Khan, Mohammad Sami, Samuel Badree and Rumman Raees touted as the major threats.
Misbah-ul-Haq (c), Rumman Raees, Andre Russell, Alex Hales, JP Duminy, Samit Patel, Chadwick Walton, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Samuel Badree, David Willey, Steven Finn, Mohammad Sami, Sahibzada Farhan, Sam Billings, Luke Ronchi, Mohammad Hasan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Amad Butt, Asif Ali, Hussain Talat, Mohammad Hasnain, Zafar Gohar, Rohail Nazir
Having finished fourth and third in the first and second seasons respectively, Karachi Kings will look to better their record in the PSL 03. Imad Wasim is set to lead the side this year and the team has drafted in all-rounder Shahid Afridi who played a vital role in Peshawar Zalmi's title win last season. In Colin Ingram, Luke Wright, Ravi Bopara and Babar Azam, the Kings have plenty of firepower in their batting line-up. Mitchell Johnson and Mohammad Amir will be leading the pace attack while Imad Wasim and Shahid Afridi should be more than handy when it comes to spin.
Imad Wasim (c), Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Amir, Babar Azam, Tymal Mills, Eoin Morgan, Lendl Simmons, Colin Ingram, Ravi Bopara, Joe Denly, David Wiese, Mohammad Rizwan, Saifullah Bangash, Usama Mir, Khurram Manzoor, Hasan Mohsin, Mohammad Irfan, Tabish Khan, Mohammad Taha, Mushtaq Ahmed Kalhoro, Mitchell Johnson, Luke Wright
Led by Brendon McCullum, the Qalandars will be desperate to make amends this year after having finished at the bottom of the table in each of the previous two seasons. The addition of Fakhar Zaman and Australian explosive batsman Chris Lynn should help the team turn its fortunes around this time. Umar Akmal has been one of their most consistent run-scorers which makes him a pivotal figure in this batting group. Lahore Qalandars have an impressive bowling line-up with the likes of pacemen Sohail Khan and Mustafizur Rahman along with spinners Yasir Shah and Sunil Narine who took the most wickets for them last time.
Brendon McCullum (c), Chris Lynn, Umar Akmal, Sunil Narine, Fakhar Zaman, Yasir Shah, Mustafizur Rahman, Dinesh Ramdin, Sohail Khan, Anton Devcich, Mitchell McClenaghan, Cameron Delport, Gulraiz Sadaf, Bilal Asif, Aamer Yamin, Agha Salman, Sohail Akhtar, Raza Hasan, Shaheen Afridi, Ghulam Mudassar, Imran Khan, Salman Irshad
The debutants will be led by former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik. A fine balance of young blood and seasoned campaigners, Multan Sultans have come up with a formidable-looking squad. The likes of Ahmed Shehzad, Kumar Sangakkara and skipper Malik and hard-hitting West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard add a lot of muscle to the team's batting. Bowling too, especially their pace attack, looks threatening as well. While Sohail Tanvir and Junaid Khan have stood the test of time in the shortest format, Mohammad Irfan with his uneven bounce can cause plenty of problems for the batsmen.
Shoaib Malik (c), Kieron Pollard, Imran Tahir, Thisara Perera, Ahmed Shehzad, Darren Bravo, Sohail Tanvir, Junaid Khan, Hardus Viljoen, Kumar Sangakkara, Umar Gul, Irfan Khan, Sohaib Maqsood, Saif Badar, Ross Whiteley, Umar Siddiq, Kashif Bhatti, Irfan Khan, Mohammad Abbas, Abdullah Shafique, Shan Masood, Mohammad Irfan
They are one of the most consistent teams in the competition having reached the playoffs in the inaugural season and then going all the way to win the title in the previous season. Once again, Peshawar Zalmi are stepping into the tournament with a pretty strong squad led by the two-time World T20 winning captain Darren Sammy. Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Hafeez and Kamran Akmal who earned the 'Man of the Tournament' award last year will be the key in the team's batting unit. Peshawar's bowling will depend a lot on experienced campaigners Shakib Al Hasan, Wahab Riaz, Dwayne Bravo and Chris Jordan.
Darren Sammy (c), Mohammad Hafeez, Hasan Ali, Tamim Iqbal, Dwayne Smith, Dwayne Bravo, Shakib Al Hasan, Liam Dawson, Andre Fletcher, Wahab Riaz, Evin Lewis, Kamran Akmal, Haris Sohail, Chris Jordan, Hammad Azam, Mohammad Asghar, Saad Nasim, Sameen Gul, Ibtisam Sheikh, Taimur Sultan, Mohammad Arif, Khushdil Shah
They finished runners-up both times (having lost the 2016 final to Islamabad United and the 2017 final to Peshawar Zalmi) and will look to break their finals jinx this season. For this third edition of the tournament, Quetta Gladiators have retained the core of their squad that will be led by Sarfraz Ahmed. Jason Roy, Rilee Rossouw, Kevin Pietersen along with the skipper will be leading the charge with the bat while Carlos Brathwaite, Ben Laughlin, Jofra Archer and Afghanistan's spin sensation Rashid Khan will be the main weapons with the ball.
Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Hassan Khan, Kevin Pietersen, Shane Watson, Rilee Rossouw, Jofra Archer, Ben Laughlin, Jason Roy, Albie Morkel, Mahmudullah Riyad, John Hastings, Asad Shafiq, Mohammad Nawaz, Rashid Khan, Chris Green, Rahat Ali, Anwar Ali, Mir Hamza, Umar Amin, Rameez Raja, Saad Ali, Saud Shakeel, Faraz Ahmed, Mohammad Azam Khan, Mohammad Junaid, Carlos Brathwaite
Betfair has Peshawar Zalmi as favorites to win the PSL 2018 at odds of 3.9 and Multan Sultans as the underdogs at a very high price of 7. The bookmaker currently has Islamabad United at 5.80, Quetta Gladiators at 4.30, Karachi Kings at 4.80 and Lahore Qalandars at 5.30. Bet365 also has Peshawar Zalmi as favorites to win the tournament at odds of 4 and Multan Sultans as underdogs at 7.50. The bookmaker has Islamabad United at 5.50, Quetta Gladiators at 4.50, Karachi Kings at 5.50 and Lahore Qalandars at 5.50. Peshawar Zalmi are favorites to win the PSL 03 on Betway as well with a 4.33 offer while Multan Sultans are distant outsiders at 7.50. The sportsbook has Islamabad United at 5.50, Quetta Gladiators at 4.50, Karachi Kings at 5 and Lahore Qalandars at 5.50.
Islamabad United (winners of 2016 season) and Peshawar Zalmi (winners of 2017 season) are former champions and both these teams know what it takes to win this tournament. Quetta Gladiators (two-time runners-up) too have been very consistent and they are likely to at least make it through to the playoffs this time as well. Though Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars have the potential to come up with good performances, we don't really expect them to break into the top four this year. Multan Sultans are the dark horses of the PSL 03 and they have selected quite a balanced team under the supervision of Wasim Akram. They seem to be an exciting bunch of quality players and we expect them to take everyone by surprise this season. We therefore predict new entrants Multan Sultans to win the Pakistan Super League 2018.