Lahore Qalandars managed to get their hands on the prestigious Pakistan Super League (PSL) trophy for the first time in the seventh edition of the series in 2022.
Led by Pakistan star pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi, fan-favourite team has certainly faced hurdles in its journey to success because the franchise, always a formidable opponent on paper, couldn’t meet the expectations of fans until last year.
Nevertheless, the Qalandars, fuelled by their love for the game, eventually beat the 2021 champions, Multan Sultans, to win the tournament. Let’s take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s team, ahead of PLS 8, which is set to kick-off on February 13, in Multan, where the Qalandars will come face to face against their opponents from last year’s final.
As the famous saying goes, “batters win matches, but bowlers win tournaments”, the Qalandars’ success in the previous season was largely due to their bowling aided by some exceptional batting by Fakhar Zaman at the top of the order.
Likewise, bowling is the franchise’s strength as their two pacers — Shaheen and Haris Rauf — can always be a threat to the opponent at any stage of the game.
Shaheen’s skill with the new ball and Rauf’s pace and variations in the death overs can topple any team’s batting lineup.
The fiery and quick bowling is powered by the trickery and magic of Rashid Khan, who recently completed 500 T20 wickets, that too only at the age of 24.
The Afghanistan spinner has the best economy rate — 5.88 runs — in the league.
Meanwhile, the Qalandars have added another versatile player, Sikandar Raza, to their squad. The Zimbabwe all-rounder amassed 219 runs and claimed 10 wickets in the T20 World Cup 2022, where he properly announced himself to the world.
Firepower in the middle order is what the defending champions will miss in the upcoming season. England middle-order batter Harry Brook, who scored 264 runs for the Qalandars in the PSL 7, will miss the upcoming season.
Brook’s absence will definitely have a massive impact on the Qalandars’ batting performance, considering his record in the previous season.
Moreover, there is no experienced batter in the squad like Mohammad Hafeez, who was not picked by the franchise in the draft this year.
Hafeez was an integral part of the Qalandars’ PSL triumph last season, as he was the side’s second and the tournament’s seventh-highest run-scorer, smashing 323 runs.