PSL 2024 draft winners and losers: Islamabad look strong while Karachi lose key men

We assess the strengths and weaknesses of the squads ahead of the ninth edition of competition

Former Pakistan captain Babar Azam will lead Peshawar Zalmi in the 2024 PSL. AP
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As the dust settles on the Pakistan Super League draft in Lahore, we take a look at who did good business - and who did not.

The six franchises Islamabad United, Karachi Kings, Lahore Qalandars, Multan Sultans, Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators picked 108 players (18 by each team), including the pre-draft retentions. There are a total of 36 overseas players (six in each team) with the biggest contingent coming from England (15) followed by West Indies (6), South Africa (5), Afghanistan (3), New Zealand (2) and Sri Lanka, Australia, UAE, Namibia, Zimbabwe (one each).

As teams prepare for the ninth season of the competition in February next year, we take a look at how the sides stack up.

Islamabad United - 9/10

The foundation of a good T20 team is based on six departments – an explosive top-order batter, a power-hitter for middle and the final overs, a keeper who can bat, a new ball bowler, a spinner for the middle overs and a bowler who can contain runs in the last phase. Islamabad United ticked all these boxes with their retentions and further strengthened in the draft. Islamabad have more than one option for most of the roles mentioned above.

Their prime picks in the draft were a wicket-keeper batter from England in Jordan Cox, who is striking at 150 in T20s this year, and the two emerging local fast bowlers Hunain and Ubaid Shah, brothers of the flamboyant Pakistan speedster Naseem Shah.

United picked up another budding fast bowler in Matthew Forde, who recently took three wickets for West Indies in an ODI against England. They also bagged two English fast bowlers, Tymal Mills and Tom Curran. That takes their fast-bowling options in the squad to nine.

United will base their team on the swashbuckling batting of Colin Munro and Alex Hales followed by the hitting of Cox and Azam Khan. For the first time in nine seasons, they won’t have the services of Asif Ali, a veteran power-hitter with 88 sixes in the PSL. This time, they are expecting Imad Wasim and Faheem Ashraf to play that role.

Naseem, who is expected to recover from a shoulder injury before the tournament, and Imad, will take care of the bowling in the powerplay. Naseem, being an all-phase bowler, will also bowl a couple of overs in the last stage of the innings.

Their only surprising pick was Salman Ali Agha, who is known for his batting against spinners but has a T20 strike-rate of 111.95. Perhaps, they are looking at him as an anchor in case the power-hitting plans don’t work.

Likely XI (overseas players in bold): Colin Munro, Alex Hales, Jordan Cox, Shadab Khan (capt), Azam Khan (wk), Imad Wasim, Qasim Akram, Faheem Ashraf, Naseem Shah, Matthew Forde, Hunain Shah

Remaining squad: Shamyl Hussain, Salman Ali Agha, Tymal Mills, Rumman Raees, Shahab Khan, Ubaid Shah, Tom Curran

Peshawar Zalmi - 8/10

Arguably the strongest batting unit in the competition but slightly thin on bowling. They have the services of the most prominent cricketer in the country Babar Azam, who will captain and open the batting for them. After him, they are likely to form their top order around five batters with great hitting ability – Saim Ayub, Mohammad Haris, Tom-Kohler Cadmore, Rovman Powell and Asif Ali.

Their batting is so resourceful that Haseebullah Khan, a promising emerging batter who they retained before the draft, might struggle to get into the starting XI.

Peshawar’s major picks in the draft were the Afghanistan duo Naveen-ul-Haq and Noor Ahmad and the most experienced power-hitter in Pakistan Asif Ali, who famously hit three sixes against them in the final won by Islamabad in 2019. Dan Mousley, an off-spin bowling all-rounder from England, is also in their roster and they expect him to develop in the coming years.

Peshawar, however, could struggle with their bowling. The PSL playoffs will be played close to the start of the IPL in March. Since their two overseas bowlers Naveen and Noor are IPL regulars, they might have to leave early. Afghanistan are also planning to host Ireland for a Test, three ODIs and three T20Is in March in Abu Dhabi. If it happens, Noor’s participation in PSL could be restricted to just a couple of weeks.

Peshawar also don’t have a local fast bowler who plays regularly for Pakistan in T20Is. They will be banking on Salman Irshad, who they picked using right-to-match, and Mohammad Zeeshan, the 6ft 8in fast bowler currently in the UAE playing in the U19 Asia Cup for Pakistan.

Likely XI: Babar Azam (capt), Saim Ayub, Mohammad Haris (wk), Tom-Kohler Cadmore, Rovman Powell, Asif Ali, Aamir Jamal, Naveen-ul-Haq, Noor Ahmad, Salman Irshad, Mohammad Zeeshan

Remaining squad: Haseebullah Khan (wk), Dan Mousley, Arif Yaqoob, Mehran Mumtaz, Khurram Shahzad, Umair Afridi, Lungi Ngidi

Quetta Gladiators - 8/10

After failing to make it to the playoffs for four years in a row, Quetta Gladiators have made some big changes this year but not in captaincy. They are the only team in the tournament's history who never changed the captain. Sarfaraz Ahmed will lead the team for the ninth season in a row but will have a different set of players this time.

Rilee Rossouw, who was one of their key players when they were a successful franchise until 2019, is back with them after four seasons with Multan Sultans. He was traded before the draft. Quetta also released the left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz, who played eight seasons for them, and now will have two local leg-spinners in Abrar Ahmed and Usman Qadir.

It’s a team that loves operating with the spinners. Wanindu Hasaranga, the leg-spinner from Sri Lanka, will make his PSL debut in the coming season but will be available for five matches only. Hasaranga’s backup is the left-arm spinner from West Indies Akeal Hosein.

Fast bowling has been an issue for them in the last few years, which should be sorted out in the coming season with Mohammad Amir opening the bowling. Amir, for the first time in nine years, will be playing for a franchise other than Karachi Kings. He will be supported by the pace of Mohammad Hasnain and Mohammad Wasim. Saud Shakeel, who is an uncapped PSL player and was not considered for 33 matches by Quetta previously, is expected to open in 2024.

Their issue seems to be the absence of a bowler who can contain runs in the last phase of the innings and too much reliance on one hitter - Sherfane Rutherford - in the lower-order.

Likely XI: Jason Roy, Saud Shakeel, Khawaja Nafay, Rilee Rossouw, Sarfaraz Ahmed (capt and wk), Sherfane Rutherford, Wanindu Hasaranga, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Wasim, Mohammad Hasnain, Abrar Ahmed

Remaining squad: Will Smeed, Sajjad Ali (wk), Omair Bin Yousuf, Akeal Hosein, Usman Qadir, Adil Naz, Sohail Khan

Lahore Qalandars - 7/10

The winners of the previous two editions Lahore Qalandars didn’t make many changes in the core group, but the possible absence of Rashid Khan could hurt them big time. While they still have three excellent Pakistan pacers in Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf and Zaman Khan, it remains to be seen how successful they will be without Rashid bowling four overs for nothing in the middle-overs.

Rashid recently underwent lower-back surgery in the UK and is unlikely to be available for PSL 2024. He might not play PSL in 2025 either as there will be a full clash with the IPL.

Lahore’s big picks in the draft were Rassie van der Dussen, who they might struggle to put in the top-order as they have four local in-form options in Fakhar Zaman, Sahibzada Farhan, Abdullah Shafique and Mirza Tahir Baig.

Lahore didn’t have a wicketkeeper in their first 16 picks and went for Shai Hope only in the supplementary round. As a keeper, Hope is likely to be in the XI but since he is also a top-order batter, it will be difficult to fit him in the batting order. That also means their power-hitters Sikandar Raza and David Wiese might not get enough balls to create an impact.

Last year, Lahore were saved by Shaheen Afridi’s unexpected power-hitting in the lower-order - whether it can be a regular formula for success, only time will tell.

Likely XI: Fakhar Zaman, Sahibzada Farhan, Abdullah Shafique, Rassie van der Dussen, Shai Hope (wk), Sikandar Raza, David Wiese, Shaheen Afridi (capt), Syed Faridoun, Haris Rauf, Zaman Khan

Remaining squad: Mirza Tahir Baig, Kamran Ghulam, Dan Lawrence, Ahsan Bhatti, Rashid Khan, Jahandad Khan, Mohammad Imran

Multan Sultans - 7/10

A change in personnel but not the strategy. Multan Sultans will continue with a conservative top-order followed by power batters. They have lost the services of Tim David, who didn’t make himself available for the tournament this time, and Rilee Rossouw, who they gave to Quetta Gladiators in return for Iftikhar Ahmed and first Platinum pick (which they used to get the England all-rounder David Willey) and Kieron Pollard. What they still have is the dynamic leadership of Rizwan, under whom they have played three finals in a row.

Their notable picks in the draft were Willey, Reeza Hendricks, Dawid Malan and Reece Topley.

Multan didn’t retain Shan Masood, who produced prolific opening stands with Rizwan in recent years. Hendricks, a batter from South Africa with a T20I strike-rate of 115.71 in Asia, is expected to open the batting with Rizwan and Dawid Malan, another batter who has had issues with the strike-rate, coming at three. That means Iftikhar, who has hit most sixes (67) among Pakistanis in T20s in 2023, and Khushdil Shah will need to work hard as power-hitters.

Ihsanullah, who took 22 wickets for them in the last PSL and was player of the tournament, is still recovering from an elbow injury and is unlikely to be fully available for the PSL. Apart from him, they don’t have any local fast bowler of great repute. They hope Willey and Topley remain available and fit for the whole PSL or Shahnawaz Dahani finds his mojo once again.

Likely XI: Mohammad Rizwan (capt and wk), Reeza Hendricks, Dawid Malan, Tayyab Tahir, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, David Willey, Usama Mir, Abbas Afridi, Reece Topley, Faisal Akram

Remaining squad: Yasir Khan, Usman Khan, Aftab Ibrahim, Chris Jordan, Shahnawaz Dahani, Mohammad Ali, Ihsanullah

Karachi Kings - 6/10

After missing the playoffs for two seasons in a row, Karachi Kings have overhauled their squad, including a change in leadership. Pakistan Test skipper Shan Masood has joined them as captain, replacing Imad Wasim, who for the first time in the tournament won’t be playing for Karachi.

Mohammad Amir, another player who featured in eight consecutive seasons for them, has switched his alliance to Quetta Gladiators. The absence of Amir and Imad means they will need to find two new bowlers for the powerplay (overs 1-6).

They don’t have any fast bowler in the squad who is a regular for Pakistan in international cricket, and are also the only team in the tournament without a right-arm leg-spinner.

They'll bank on the experience of Hasan Ali and Mohammad Nawaz, both moving to Karachi for the first time in their PSL careers.

Karachi have a strong top-order in Masood, James Vince and Tim Seifert but lack options for power-hitting. Their first pick in the draft was Kieron Pollard, who had a good PSL with Multan Sultans in 2022 – 260 runs at SR 163. The only other six-hitter in their squad is Daniel Sams but he will struggle to fit in their combination as their go to overseas players are likely to be Vince, Seifert, Pollard and Tabraiz Shamsi.

The area where they played smartly was retaining Mohammad Akhlaq, one of the few keeper-batters in Pakistan. Seifert has not played in the PSL before so if that pick does not work out for them, they will at least have a local player to do the glovework.

Likely XI: Shan Masood (capt), James Vince, Tim Seifert (wk), Shoaib Malik, Kieron Pollard, Irfan Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Amir Khan, Tabraiz Shamsi, Mir Hamza

Remaining squad: Saad Baig, Mohammad Akhlaq (wk), Jamie Overton, Daniel Sams, Anwar Ali, Arafat Minhas, Sirajuddin

Updated: December 15, 2023, 8:00 AM