The Lahore Qalandars have picked up allrounder Shakib Al Hasan as their replacement for Rashid Khan for the remainder of PSL 2021. The Karachi Kings snapped up Martin Guptill to fill in for Colin Ingram, while the Quetta Gladiators picked Andre Russell to replace Tom Banton, and Islamabad United brought in Usman Khawaja to cover for Alex Hales in their top order.
These were some of the biggest signings made on Tuesday night, when the six PSL teams met to choose replacements for the players who will miss the remainder of the 2021 season, which is set to resume on June 2. On March 4, the tournament was suspended mid-season when a number of players tested positive for Covid-19.
The teams' rosters of local players remain intact but most of the overseas players, who were around before the postponement, will not be available for one reason or another. The English players will be busy with the Vitality Blast T20 tournament, while some others will be on national duty.
The six teams were given a list of over 135 players across all five categories. Lahore took a big hit, losing their middle-order core as well as their ace spinner Rashid. They picked up five players at the replacement draft to fill their vacant slots. Peshawar Zalmi suffered a big blow to their roster too, with key players Mujeeb Zadran, Saqib Mahmood and Ravi Bopara unavailable. They plugged the gap by signing three West Indian players in Fabian Allen, Rovman Powell and Fidel Edwards, with all three available for the entire remaining leg.
Karachi and the Multan Sultans picked up four players each while Quetta picked just one replacement.
The order of picks was settled through a randomiser, and Lahore won the first pick in the Platinum category. Russell was a high-profile option, but since he will only be available for a part of PSL 2021's remainder, they went with Shakib instead.
Other than Hales, Islamabad will miss Lewis Gregory and Phil Salt but the franchise have roped in Khawaja and the South Africa batsman Janneman Malan and will welcome back Colin Munro, who missed the initial leg due to New Zealand's quarantine rules. Quetta have only picked one replacement so far but may look for more once the availability of Chris Gayle and Dale Steyn become known.
The PSL will clash with several other series, making it tricky for the franchises to choose their combinations. An initial seven-day mandatory quarantine in the last week of May will directly clash with the IPL playoffs. This will be followed by an ODI series between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. West Indies and South Africa, meanwhile, are playing a Test and T20I series in June, while England will host New Zealand and Sri Lanka in the same timespan.
ESPNcricinfo understands that the newly picked players won't be considered for retention for the next edition of the PSL. The nineteen players picked so far will be treated as provisional while the original roster (before the postponement) will be effective for next year's pre-draft business.
The remainder of the tournament will be played in June, with all matches in Karachi, in a bio-security bubble being put in place by a UK-based company. The teams will assemble by May 23 to begin their mandatory seven-day quarantine, and action will resume on June 2, with the final on June 20.
Shakib Al Hasan