Karachi Kings captain Imad Wasim rubbishes claims of 'hiding himself' on the field
Wasim had bowled just 13 overs in five matches in the first leg of PSL 2021
Imad Wasim, the Karachi Kings captain, has defended his own limited role in the champions' defence of their title this season. With the sixth season set to resume from Wednesday, the Kings are top of the table but only on net run-rate; three other teams are all, like them, sat on six points. Wasim's contribution so far is zero runs with the bat - though he's only faced one ball - and a slightly off-colour performance with the ball, at least by comparison to his own high standards.
That has dovetailed with exclusion from the national side, of which he was such an essential part in their rise to the top of the rankings after the 2016 World T20. But the PSL now offers an opportunity to throw himself back into that mix, as well as ensure a successful title defence with Karachi.
"First thing, I played one ball in the matches [in the first leg in Karachi] and got out first ball," he said. "The wickets were such and our top order was doing so well that I didn't even get my batting. Sometimes people look at stats but they don't have much of an idea. They see I have zero runs from five matches but I only played one ball in those five games."
His bowling, he acknowledged, had been "disappointing" in a couple of games but bristled at the suggestion in one question that fans thought he was hiding himself in games out of fear of being exposed. His opening spells in the Powerplay were a central plank in Pakistan's strategy during their rise, but his performances have dipped slightly over the last 18 months, and Pakistan have been picking Mohammad Nawaz in his place.
In the first five games, Wasim didn't bowl himself in one game, bowled a single over for 16 in another, before finally opening the bowling in three games in which he bowled his full complement of overs.
"You think fans think I would do something like this so I don't get exposed on my performances?" he asked. "It doesn't matter to me. Anyone can say whatever they want about me. It doesn't matter if the world thinks I will get exposed or not, the thing that matters is what the team requires. If the team requires me to bowl four overs, I'll bowl four overs. If it requires just one over, I will bowl just one.
"I've never backed down from any challenge, and I won't now. People who know me, players who have played with me know I never back down from a challenge. Even in this leg, if I feel that I don't need to bowl a single ball I won't bowl one. The only thing that matters is the team. Personal performances don't matter, only the team. That is the No.1 goal, the team performance, not mine. It's irrelevant even if you get five out and the team loses."
As with every other franchise, the Kings have seen its squad change considerably from the first leg. Colin Ingram, Mohammad Nabi, Dan Christian, Joe Clarke and Liton Das are all out, replaced by Thisara Perera, Najibullah Zadran, and, intriguingly, Martin Guptill. Guptill adds to a top order that begins with Babar Azam and a Sharjeel Khan who was beginning to look like his old self in the first part of the tournament.
The Kings restart the campaign with a game against Multan Sultans on Thursday, bearing the champions tag lightly. "We're not playing thinking we are defending champions," he said. "There's probably a little bit of pressure but the main concern is to play good cricket, and take it game by game. Nobody has ever defended the title in the PSL and it would be great to do it, but we're not thinking about it.
"We've played well so far, but others have as well and there's nothing between us on the points table. This is a new leg for us, what has happened in the past is gone. We have to get up for this again. There's been a lot of changes in the teams since the first leg and we've got to try and create some momentum and keep hold of it."