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Peshawar Zalmi look out for knockout efficiency

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Peshawar Zalmi Preview (1:04)

Take a look at Peshawar Zalmi's squad ahead of the second season of PSL (1:04)

Inaugural season results

Along with Quetta Gladiators, Peshawar Zalmi were the most prolific team in the group stages. They lost only two games in the preliminary round, both close encounters, and went through to the next round top of the table. It was there, however, that their season unravelled. They lost to Quetta in the first qualifier by an agonising one run, a team they thrashed just five days earlier chasing a near-identical total. In the must-win second qualifier, they fell victim to the innings-of-the-tournament from Islamabad's Sharjeel Khan, his 62-ball 117 ending their challenge.

Team assessment

All but one of Peshawar Zalmi's 16-member squad have international caps to their name. Their bowling catches one's eye at first glance, with last year's second-highest wicket-taker Wahab Riaz leading the attack. Specialist death-bowler Chris Jordan, Pakistan front-liners Junaid Khan, Hasan Ali and Imran Khan, and last season's find Mohammad Asghar, are all useful options for Peshawar, with Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez and Darren Sammy providing depth to the point of luxury.

Their batting stocks have taken a hit, though, even before a ball has been bowled. Alex Hales and Mohammad Shahzad will miss the entire tournament, while Eoin Morgan and Tamim Iqbal are will be partially unavailable due to international commitments. Kamran Akmal, who appears to have hit a purple patch domestically, could find the league a useful launch pad for a possible return to international cricket, nearly three years after he last played for Pakistan in any format.

Sammy, who gregariously embraced the PSL more than perhaps any other foreign player - so much so that Afridi handed over the Peshawar captaincy to the West Indian - will have to play an important leadership role in a side that, including him, contains six players who have captained internationally. His firepower with the bat lower down the order was essential for the side last season, 140 runs at a strike rate over 152 turning many decent scores into match-winning ones. With Afridi regressing rapidly and his place in the side no longer guaranteed, Sammy's contributions may be even more vital this time around.

Tillikaratne Dilshan, who was brought in for Shakib, is the wrong side of 40, making it difficult to predict what to expect of him. That places a lot of pressure on Zalmi's Pakistani batsmen, particularly Sohaib Maqsood - drafted in from Lahore Qalandars - and Hafeez, who was last season's seventh highest scorer.

Key foreign player

Pakistani fans are well aware of the destruction Tamim Iqbal can cause, particularly since the hiding their side received in a 3-0 ODI whitewash in 2015, where the left-hand opener scored two hundreds and a half-century in a Man-of-the-Series winning display. He may not be available for the entire duration of the PSL, but his franchise T20 form, particularly over the last year, has been outstanding. He was the highest scorer in last year's Bangladesh Premier League with 476 runs at an average of 43.27. At the PSL 12 months ago, Tamim was Zalmi's most prolific batsman, boasting an average of 66.75. He looks set to be available from February 15-28, which means he will miss the knockout stages. However, he could do an awful lot to make sure his side gets there in fine form.

Under the radar local lad

Mohammad Asghar is the only player in the Peshawar Zalmi's main squad not to have tasted international action, but he wasn't far off from it. The 18-year-old, who travelled with the Pakistan side to Australia, impressed Misbah so much that he was reported to be in-line for his debut in the Sydney Test earlier this year. He emerged from complete anonymity at last year's edition of the PSL, becoming the joint fifth-highest wicket-taker at the tender age of 17. That led to a contract in the Bangladesh Premier League, where, in the two matches he played, his economy rate was 4.50. Should he have a similar tournament this year, that international cap is surely a question of "when" rather than "if".

Availability

Marlon Samuels has replaced Alex Hales, who is nursing a fractured hand, albeit as a supplementary player. Mohammad Shahzad is out since the PSL runs parallel to the Afghanistan-Zimbabwe limited-overs series. Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal and Eoin Morgan all have international commitments, but Peshawar Zalmi have only traded Shakib out, bringing the experienced Tillakaratne Dilshan in his place. If Peshawar make it through to the next round, they will also have Samit Patel's services available.

Coaching staff

Mohammad Akram (head coach), Younis Khan (batting coach/mentor), Grant Luden (fielding coach/fitness trainer), Ibrahim Qureshi (assistant trainer), Bradley Ian Robinson (physio).

Squad

Darren Sammy (capt), Shahid Afridi, Eoin Morgan, Samit Patel, Wahab Riaz, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mohammad Hafeez, Chris Jordan, Tamim Iqbal, Kamran Akmal (wk), Sohaib Maqsood, Junaid Khan, Imran Khan Jr, Iftikhar Ahmed, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Asghar. Supplementary players: Marlon Samuels, Andre Fletcher, Irfan Khan, Khushdil Shah