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Karachi Kings pin hopes on Sangakkara, Gayle

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PSL 2017 Preview: Karachi Kings (0:48)

Karachi Kings have retained last season star Ravi Bopara. But who did they add to their squad and who did they let go? (0:48)

Inaugural season results

Karachi finished the 2016 campaign with the worst win-loss record of all teams. They did the double over the equally abject Lahore Qalandars, but lost all their matches against every other team. The excessively forgiving format meant they went through to the last four despite only two wins in eight, edging Lahore out on net run rate. There, they were walloped by eventual winners Islamabad by nine wickets, bringing a gloomy tournament to an aptly ignominious end.

Team assessment

Karachi Kings were busy in the transfer market, most notably bringing in Chris Gayle and Kumar Sangakarra from Lahore Qalandars and Quetta Gladiators respectively; the latter has been appointed captain this season. This is the franchise's third captain in a year. Shoaib Malik stepped down last season after the group stages, and Man of the Series Ravi Bopara was appointed for the eliminator.

That brings us to the Kings' only bright spot last year. Ravi Bopara, never one for attention-seeking, what with his workmanlike batting and military-medium bowling, finished as the second-highest run-scorer and joint fifth-highest wicket-taker. His 11 wickets included an astonishing 6 for 16 against the Lahore Qalandars, so far the best figures in the PSL's short history. He has been retained, and might hope for a bit more support from his teammates this time around.

Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard are the biggest T20 names, although their recent form has been mixed. Gayle was the third-highest scorer in the 2016 Caribbean Premier League, but his Bangladesh Premier League performance - of greater relevance, given where the PSL is being played - was ordinary, with 109 runs in five games. Pollard scored 145 runs in eight matches for the Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash, but Karachi Kings will need more than that from their volatile West Indians.

Unburdened by the captaincy, Shoaib Malik may begin to play more freely. While his performance in last year's edition was unremarkable, his outings in the CPL and the BPL have been solid - he has averaged 32.87 and 41.71 respectively. The evergreen Sangakarra, too, had a prolific BPL, ending up as the fourth highest run-scorer. However, his form in franchise T20 cricket over the past year or so has dipped, and might be a concern.

The heart of the bowling attack has a Pakistani flavour, with Mohammad Amir, Sohail Khan and Imad Wasim comprising the three likely frontline bowlers. Amir was decent without being earth-shattering for the Kings last year, while Imad Wasim's stock has risen since 12 months ago, owing much to his stellar international showings.

Key foreign player

Karachi have a host of big-name foreign players, but none of them really convinces, either because of form or age. In such circumstances, it might be best to revert to what is already known and highlight Ravi Bopara once more. How a player who has never shown signs of the T20 nous he exhibited last season took the league by storm was nothing short of stunning. He will ply his trade on similar tracks to the ones he hit such a purple patch on last season, but with significantly more confidence. Similar performances this time around may even see him pushing for an international recall after a two-year absence.

Under-the-radar local lad

It has been more than six years since Shahzaib Hasan last played for Pakistan, but a monster hundred in a List A game two weeks ago might give us a glimpse of the form he's in. As a World T20 winner with Pakistan in 2009, he is unlikely to be fazed by anything the PSL can throw at him. He played only two games for Karachi last year, but if the side's batting superstars fail to live up to their billing, Shahzaib could be given an extended run in the side, and remind Pakistani fans why a World Cup winners medal hangs around his neck.

Availability

There was no transfer activity during the replacement draft for the Karachi Kings. Everyone in the squad is available for the duration of the tournament, and there are no injury concerns.

Coaches and Staff

Mickey Arthur (head coach), Azhar Mahmood (assistant coach), Rashid Latif (director), Abdul Majeed (fielding coach), Asad Ali (physio)

Karachi Kings squad

Kumar Sangakkara (c), Chris Gayle, Shoaib Malik, Kieron Pollard, Mohammad Amir, Ravi Bopara, Imad Wasim, Babar Azam, Ryan McLaren, Sohail Khan, Shahzaib Hasan, Saifullah Bangash, Khurram Manzoor, Kashif Bhatti, Abrar Ahmed, Abdul Hameed
Supplementary players: Mahela Jayawardene, Usama Mir, Rahat Ali, Amad Alam