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Lahore look to new captain McCullum for turnaround

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Lahore Qalander Preview (0:45)

Lahore Qalander will hope for a change in their fortune in this season of the PSL (0:45)

Inaugural season results

There was no twist, turning point or pivotal moment for Lahore Qalandars in the first season of the PSL: they were simply diabolical from start to finish. Six defeats in their eight group games - five of them absolute hammerings - meant Lahore spent much of the tournament rooted to the bottom. That, ultimately, was where they finished, and the league's second-most expensive franchise experienced the ignominy of being the only side to be eliminated in the first round.

Team assessment

There's an uneasy similarity between Lahore 's build-up to the tournament this year and last. A lot of the PSL's excitement in its inaugural season came from Lahore landing the league's biggest star in Chris Gayle. He didn't live up to the hype, however, with 103 runs in five games (60 came in one innings). This year, Lahore have again brought in the biggest T20 name - Brendon McCullum has arrived, taking the captaincy armband off Azhar Ali in the process.

He's not the only new face at Lahore. In fact, the side has retained only six players from the 20 that made up their squad last season. With last season's top scorer Umar Akmal, McCullum, England opener Jason Roy and explosive South African allrounder Cameron Delport in the top order, Lahore have the firepower to dismantle any bowling attack. Yasir Shah is also set to play a major part, after missing out last season due to a three-month ban he was serving for a doping violation.

But Lahore's squad appears to be missing seasoned T20 bowlers necessary to provide balance, Sunil Narine excepted. They have not been helped by Shaun Tait and Dwayne Bravo being ruled out for varying reasons, and their replacements - Sydney Thunder offspinner Chris Green and former New Zealand allrounder James Franklin - don't nearly have the same pedigree. The vast experience of Sohail Tanvir, who had an indifferent tournament with the Karachi Kings last season, will have to play a major role if Lahore are to be a title threat this season.

Key foreign player

We might as well name this the "Let's talk about McCullum" section. Either the best or second-best T20 cricketer ever, McCullum has played 259 matches in the format, scoring over 7,000 runs with 36 half-centuries and seven hundreds. His unbeaten 158 in the IPL's opening match was arguably the single most important innings in the format's history, setting the IPL, and perhaps all T20 franchise cricket, on the inexorable path to dominance of the cricket of the future. More recently, he was the fourth-highest scorer in the Big Bash League (BBL) as Brisbane Heat captain this season, with 323 runs at an average over 46.14 and a strike rate in excess of 170. If he can carry that sort of form to the PSL, McCullum could find himself becoming as big a star in Pakistan as all the other countries whose T20 leagues he has graced, and set on fire.

Under the radar local lad

Born in Mardan, from where legendary Pakistan batsman Younus Khan hails, Fakhar Zaman has quietly entered a rich vein of form with his domestic side, Habib Bank. In the recent Quaid-e-Azam trophy, Zaman scored 663 runs at an average of 51, including 170 in Habib Bank's second innings of the final, a contest where all attention was on former Pakistan captain Salman Butt's twin centuries. In the following Departmental One-Day Cup, he scored three half-centuries in nine innings at a strike rate of 96.51. At 26, the left-hander should be entering the prime of his career, and a prolific PSL would only add to his discreetly rising stock.

Availability

Fast bowler Shaun Tait has been ruled out due to shoulder problems, while New Zealand batsman Anton Devcich's knee injury has flared up again. Allrounder Dwayne Bravo suffered a hamstring injury during the BBL and will undergo surgery, which rules him out too. Lahore have drafted in James Franklin, Jason Roy and Chris Green as replacements.

Coaches and Staff

Paddy Upton (head coach), Shahid Aslam (assistant coach), Ijaz Ahmed (batting coach/consultant), Aqib Javed (director), Mudassar Nazar (advisor/icon) Shawn Bradstreet (fielding coach) John Gloster (physio)

Lahore Qalandars squad

Brendon McCullum (c), Sunil Narine, Umar Akmal, Sohail Tanvir, Jason Roy, Yasir Shah, James Franklin, Mohammad Rizwan, Cameron Delport, Azhar Ali, Aamer Yamin, Zafar Gohar, Fakhar Zaman, Bilawal Bhatti, Ghulam Mudassir, Usman Qadir

Supplementary players

Grant Elliott, Chris Green, Said Badar, Mohammad Irfan (Jr)