Pakistan Super League December 22, 2015

How the five PSL teams stack up

A detailed lowdown on the squad strengths, weaknesses, surprise picks and players to watch out for in the Pakistan Super League

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Inaugural PSL draft complete

Islamabad United


Technically a sound selection with a good collection of specialists in most slots. The side will centre around the experienced hands of captain Misbah-ul-Haq, allrounders Shane Watson and Andre Russell, and pace spearhead Mohammad Irfan, with players like Umar Amin, Babar Azam and Ruman Raees for support.

The selection of Mohammad Sami and Khalid Latif, however, will invite debate. Latif has scored 8180 runs at 37.38 in 50-overs cricket, but a modest average of 23.17 across 84 T20 innings does not inspire too much confidence. Sami, 34, has spent more than 15 years in the international circuit, but hasn't lived up to potential. While pace is still his defining feature, his fragile temperament and inconsistency have let him down time and again.

Weakness

Andre Russell's presence in the middle order could be reassuring, but if he fails, there isn't much experience in Babar Azam, Sam Billings or Umar Amin. Brad Haddin is currently playing in the Big Bash League after his international retirement, but at 38, he isn't the force he once was.

Surprise pick

Most teams might have ignored him, but Islamabad created an opening for Kamran Ghulam, a rookie allrounder who bowls left-arm spin. He is expected to partner Samuel Badree, the West Indies legspinner.

First choice XI: 1 Shane Watson, 2 Sharjeel Khan, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq, 5 Umar Amin, 6 Sam Billings, 7 Andre Russell, 8 Kamran Ghulam, 9 Samuel Badree, 10 Mohammad Irfan, 11 Ruman Raees

Bench strength: Ammad Butt, Mohammad Sami, Khalid Latif, Brad Haddin, Imran Khalid

Supplementary picks: Ashar Zaidi, Saeed Ajmal, Hussain Talat, Umar Siddiq

Umar Akmal is part of a Lahore batting line-up that threatens to be among the PSL's most explosive © AFP

Karachi Kings


The platinum category was brimming with international stars, but Karachi surprisingly went for Sohail Tanvir at that stage. City loyalty was clearly not on their minds when they formulated a strategy for the drafts. That perhaps explains why only two player from the city - Sohail Khan and Mir Hamza - found a place in the squad.

While they tried to have all bases covered, the 16-man squad looks a little off-balance with a plethora of allrounders. Shoaib Malik has been named captain, and the side's bowling attack will be centred around Mohammad Amir, clearly the most celebrated pick.

Weakness

It seems, from the outside, that they have all their eggs in one basket. The plethora of allrounders may upset their team composition as they will have to mix and match their playing XI.

Surprise pick

Sohail Tanvir was a baffling selection. He hasn't been in the best of form and was even left out of a conditioning camp with the national team ahead of the T20 season. He managed to pick just one wicket at a bowling average of 110.0 for Sylhet Super Stars and scored 57 at 14.25 in the BPL. Therefore it isn't clear what inspired his selection.

First choice XI: 1 Lendl Simmons, 2 Nauman Anwar, 3 Shoaib Malik (capt), 4 Ravi Bopara, 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Mushfiqur Rahim 7 Sohail Tanvir, 8 Mohammad Amir, 9 Sohail Khan, 10 Mir Hamza, 11 Usama Mir

Bench strength: Imad Wasim, Bilawal Bhatti, Nauman Anwar, Iftikhar Ahmed, Safiullah Bangash

Supplementary picks: Tillakaratne Dilshan, Shahzaib Hasan, Fawad Alam

Lahore Qalandars


Potentially the most explosive batting side in the competition, Lahore have an array of flamboyant batsmen in Chris Gayle, Umar Akmal and Cameron Delport, who can win them matches single-handedly on a given day. There is depth too, in case of a top-order wobble, with Mohammad Rizwan and Dwayne Bravo to follow.

Weakness

Lahore possess the most inexperienced bowling line up in the tournament, with Bangladesh's Mustafizur Rahman looking like their most important signing in that department. Hammad Azam and Yasir Shah - who is yet to fully translate his successes in the longer format into limited-overs cricket - will offer support with the ball.

Surprise pick

Pakistan's ODI captain Azhar Ali might not seem an attractive T20 proposition, but he has not only made the Lahore line-up but is also likely to captain it. Azhar was originally in the Diamond category but remained unpicked, and was relegated twice, to the Gold and Silver categories, before Lahore eventually picked him.

First choice XI: 1 Chris Gayle 2 Cameron Delport 3 Azhar Ali 4 Umar Akmal 5 Dwayne Bravo 6 Mohammad Rizwan 7 Hammad Azam 8 Yasir Shah 9 Mustafizur Rahman 10 Zafar Gohar 11 Zia ul Haq

Bench strength: Adnan Rasool, Naved Yasin, Zohaib Khan, Kevon Cooper, Sohaib Maqsood

Supplementary picks: Imran Butt, Ehsan Adil, Mukhtar Ahmed, Abdul Razzaq

Peshawar will welcome Afridi's charisma and inspirational leadership, but might have reason to worry about his form © AFP

Peshawar Zalmi


The most charismatic side with Shahid Afridi, the hottest pick in the draft. Peshawar paid Islamabad the hefty amount of £50,294.85 for the right to the first turn in the auction, and with it a chance to pic£7.38k Afridi. The squad is a decent one, with a good mix of players from the region as well as Pakistan stars such as Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Hafeez, and international stars like Darren Sammy.

Weakness

Afridi's form is a bit of a worry. Peshawar's likely captain is in a bit of a slump at the moment, and the World T20 will be his last international tournament.

Surprise pick

A 35-year old Abdur Rehman was the forgotten man of Pakistan cricket. He last played for Pakistan in August 2014, and his last game for them in the T20 format came as far back as November 2013. His selection may have raised eyebrows but his utility as a left-arm spinner and his enormous experience could prove valuable to Peshawar's spin department, perhaps their weakest link.

First Choice XI: 1 Kamran Akmal, 2 Tamim Iqbal, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Darren Sammy, 5 Musadiq Ahmed, 6 Shahid Yousuf, 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Chris Jordan, 9 Wahab Riaz, 10, Abdur Rehman, 11 Junaid Khan

Bench strength: Jim Allenby, Aamer Yamin, Dawid Malan, Imran Khan Jr, Hasan Ali

Supplementary picks: Mohammad Asghar, Brad Hodge, Israrullah, Taj Wali

Quetta Gladiators


Quetta was one of the more economical franchises, having been picked up for million. One of their first big recruits was Kevin Pietersen, an icon player. They then snapped up Sarfraz Ahmed and Ahmed Shehzad to bolster the batting. The bowling unit packs a punch with the presence of Umar Gul and Zulfiqar Babar. Interestingly, only one local player - Bismillah Khan - was picked, but it is highly unlikely that he will get too many games.

Weakness The absence of an out-and-out fast bowler could be one area where they could feel short-changed, although Gul will pose a threat if fully fit. But given his injury-prone ways, the side will bank on their batsmen more.

Surprise pick Akbar-ur-Rehman is smart pick from the domestic circuit. He has a decent record with three one-day hundred and a first-class double century. His ability to bowl useful seam-ups makes him a full package.

First choice XI: 1. Ahmed Shahzad 2. Luke Wright 3. Kevin Pietersen 4. Elton Chigumbura, 5. Sarfraz Ahmed (capt) 6. Saad Nasim 7. Akbar-ur-Rehman 8. Jason Holder 9. Anwar Ali 10. Zulfiqar Babar 11. Umar Gul

Bench strength: Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Nabi, Bilal Asif, Asad Shafiq, Bismillah Khan

Supplementary picks: Kumar Sangakkara, Aizaz Cheema, Rameez Raja Jnr

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson

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