All those seasons at the bottom of the table were forgotten last year thanks to the Qalandars' bristling competitiveness. The franchise rose from the ashes and stormed into their final by eliminating Peshawar Zalmi and then the league toppers Multan Sultans, before they lost to the Karachi Kings in the final. Over the years, the Qalandars had struggled to find their ideal combination and grappled with injuries and player unavailability, but last season they managed to create a desirable core under their captain Sohail Akhtar, a product of their player-development program.
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- The Qalandars possess a bowling attack with all bases covered - pace, seam, left-arm spin, legspin, offspin.
- The captain Sohail Akhtar is an underrated batsman, who has a T20 hundred under his belt. His career strike rate of 128.68 might not look too flash, but he comes into the PSL with a chart-topping 248 runs at a strike rate of 187.87 in the Abu Dhabi T10.
- Hafeez has hit a purple patch in the shortest format of late, scoring 1005 runs at an average of 47.85 and a strike rate of 141.54 since the start of 2020. He's added a new dimension to his game with improved power-hitting, and even at 40 the Professor shows no signs of stopping.
Ben Dunk, David Wiese, Dilbar Hussain, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hafeez, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sohail Akhtar, Ahmed Danyal, Maaz Khan, Mohammad Faizan, Joe Denly, Rashid Khan, Samit Patel, Tom Abell, Salman Ali Agha. Zaid Alam, Zeeshan Ashraf
The top five positions offer guaranteed firepower with Sharjeel Khan, Ingram and Dan Christian capable of booming strike rates and batting around the class of Babar Azam.
- The Kings have decent bowling options but their pace attack can be over-reliant on Mohammad Amir's four-over quota. His form cost him his Pakistan place recently, and if he doesn't fire on a given day, it might test the other fast bowlers - Arshad Iqbal, Waqas Maqsood and Aamer Yamin. It could be a make-or-break season for Amir's career.
- A lack of batting depth could be an issue, with the Kings lacking truly top-drawer hitters down the order, though Imad and Mohammad Nabi can do a decent job.
Aamer Yamin, Arshad Iqbal, Babar Azam, Colin Ingram, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Sharjeel Khan, Waqas Maqsood, Chadwick Walton, Dan Christian, Danish Aziz, Joe Clarke, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Ilyas, Noor Ahmed, Qasim Akram, Zeeshan Malik
Sharjeel Khan, Babar Azam, Colin Ingram, Dan Christian, Imad Wasim (capt), Chadwick Walton (wk), Mohammad Nabi, Aamer Yamin, Mohammad Amir, Waqas Maqsood, Arshad Iqbal
The franchise is in a rebuilding phase after losing their premier fast bowler Hasan Ali - who parted ways to join Islamabad United. They are the only team after Karachi to have made the playoffs each time they've played the tournament in the last five years. They've played as many as three finals, but won only once. Zalmi are going through a reboot this year, having retained only five players in the draft while every other team retained the maximum quota of eight to secure their core.
- The middle-order is brimming with experience, with Shoaib Malik and Ravi Bopara occupying key positions.
- The bowling is largely based on their go-to quick Wahab Riaz, who is the leading wicket-taker in the PSL and has made a crucial contribution to Zalmi's success over the years. He might be missing Hasan at the other end but the attack will be bolstered by the arrival of the Afghanistan mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who had a decent BBL season, picking up 14 wickets at an average of 13.42 and an economy rate of 6.26.
- Veteran Kamran Akmal hasn't had a good run lately with the bat, and has missed chunks of the recent domestic season due to fitness issues.
- Liam Livingstone pulling out on national duty has exposed cracks in the top order, leaving it largely in the hands of the inexperienced Haider Ali. Tom Kohler-Cadmore has been brought in as a replacement but he doesn't have a lot of experience in Asian conditions. Imam ul Haq, meanwhile, has hardly played since picking up a thumb injury in New Zealand.
Haider Ali, Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz, Abrar Ahmed, Amad Butt, David Miller, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Amir Khan, Mohammad Irfan Snr, Mohammad Imran, Mohammad Imran Randhawa, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Ravi Bopara, Saqib Mahmood, Sherfane Rutherford, Umaid Asif, Tom-Kohler Cadmore
Haider Ali, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Kamran Akmal (wk), Shoaib Malik, Ravi Bopara, Amad Butt, Wahab Riaz (capt), Umaid Asif, Mohammad Irfan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Mohammad Imran
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent