Pakistan is finally prepared to host the first full edition of the Pakistan Super League on home soil and former PSL winners Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators are ready to kick off the tournament.
Not only have Quetta Gladiators won the PSL in 2019, but they’ve also been the runners up in 2016 and 2017. That matches perfectly with Islamabad United’s record who has won the PSL trophy no less than twice in 2016 and 2018.
The opening ceremony of PSL 2020 will take place at the National Stadium in Karachi on Thursday at around 6:45 PM PST. Even though that is the official time, one must not forget that the PSL has a habit of missing the official start and end timings for the opening ceremonies and first matches.
😍😍😍 #TayyarHo? @76Shadabkhan vs @SarfarazA_54 @IsbUnited vs @TeamQuetta #RangJeetKaLaalHai vs #PurpleForce— Islamabad United (@IsbUnited) February 19, 2020
Friends off the field, rivals on it#UnitedWeWin #RangJeetKaLaalHai pic.twitter.com/xPDxgNLrwN
Also see – PSL table
Quetta Gladiators, who’ll be led by Sarfaraz Ahmed, will be looking to make an impact early in the tournament and once again cement their reputation as the most consistent team in the league.
While local talents such as Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Nawaz, and Umar Akmal have usually highlighted the Gladiator’s squad, it’s been the firepower provided by Jason Roy, Shane Watson, and Ben Cutting that has always taken them through.
However, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has announced that Akmal has been suspended under the board's Anti-Corruption Code.
The reigning PSL Champions Quetta Gladiators would like to state that @TheRealPCB is already investigating the matter of Umar Akmal and the franchise will not make any comment until inquiry is concluded.— Quetta Gladiators (@TeamQuetta) February 20, 2020
Meanwhile, Gladiators will take a replacement pick. https://t.co/k52jIhWWZ5
In the bowling department, Gladiators will be looking at youngsters Mohammad Hasnain and Naseem Shah who have made their mark on the international circuit over the past year. Both pacers have enjoyed quite a bit of success, with Shah becoming a breakout Test bowler earlier this year.
Sohail Khan and Nawaz will be the other key weapons in the Gladiators’ side as they will try to keep their opponents’ scoring rate down. The return of Tymal Mills to their squad for this season will also help them boost their line-up.
In a press conference, Sarfaraz has revealed that Jason Roy and Shane Watson will open for the team, while Ahmed Shahzad will go one down.
The Islamabad United, on the other hand, relies more on their middle-order strength and their local talent which has stayed constant over the past three years. The team has switched many captains, but that hasn’t hurt their overall performance and image which proves that they are a great unit that works together.
This year, Shadab Khan will lead the Islamabad United’s side after having proved himself in all departments across all forms of cricket. Last year the United did not fare as well as the previous seasons and ended up third after defeating Karachi Kings in the first eliminator but being knocked out by Peshawar Zalmi in the second eliminator.
Shadab will look to change that for the better and will rely heavily on his local boys which include Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Hussain Talat, and Rumman Raees. 38-year-old Luke Ronchi will return to the side to take over the wicket-keeping duties.
Even though United will miss the services of Alex Hales, Cameron Delport, Chadwick Walton, and Mohmmad Sami, the arrival of Dale Steyn into their squad will lift the team and strengthen their pace attack. The inclusion of overseas players Colin Ingram and Colin Munro will definitely increase the strength of the lineup and provide them with stability.
Tournament: Pakistan Super League Season 5, 2020
Venue: National Stadium, Karachi
Date: 20th February 2020
Time: 8.30 PM PST onwards
The National Stadium of Karachi is now the second-largest stadium in the country with a seating capacity of 34,228 spectators. This will come in handy as we can expect people to turn up in large numbers to witness the opening game. The stadium hosted the second Test match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan recently and offered seam bowlers a lot of assistance. Apart from that, the NSK has always been a heaven for wrist spinners.
Quetta Gladiators: Luke Ronchi (Wicketkeeper), Rizwan Hussain, Colin Munro, Colin Ingram, Asif Ali, Hussain Talat, Shadab Khan (Captain) Faheem Ashraf, Rumman Raees, Zafar Gohar, and Dale Steyn.
Islamabad United: Jason Roy, Shane Watson, Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal, Sarfaraz Ahmed (Captain & Wicketkeeper), Mohammad Nawaz, Tymal Mills, Mohommad Hasnain, Sohail Khan, Naseem Shah, and Fawad Ahmed.
Where to watch the matches in Pakistan?
Quetta Gladiators v Islamabad United will be telecast LIVE on PTV Sports.
Live stream details
The live stream for Quetta Gladiators v Islamabad United will be available on Cricingiff and Cricketgateway.