The champions of the inaugural season, Islamabad United made an inauspicious start to their campaign but succeeded in getting their act together towards the business end of the tournament.
It was a classic case of ‘peaking at the right time’ as from the verge of elimination, Misbahul Haq’s charges got their act together to string together a series of match winning performances.
Mohammad Sami, Sharjeel Khan, Imran Khalid, Devon Smith and Brad Haddin were the stars of the play-offs and the tournament final against the Gladiators as United created history by winning the glittering PSL 2016 trophy.
Misbah was an inspirational leader in 2016 and a year later Pakistan’s most successful Test captain ever is ready to lead the campaign for the retention of his team’s title in the 2017 PSL season.
United have retained their core squad and are aiming to make full use of the team bonding, spirit and camaraderie that helped them during their tough start to last year’s event.
The team is an exciting blend of youth and experience with proven T20 performers from around the world as well as Pakistani players with proven pedigree in the shortest format.
United will be once again relying on their 2016 performers in their bid of replicating their success, Shane Watson who sat out the end games due to an injury last season is committed to a full season appearance. United’s think tank of Dean Jones, Wasim Akram and Tauseef Ahmed will be pinning their hopes on the Australian legend to deliver match winning performances for the squad especially during the crunch games.
Like the 2016 season, United have real fire power in their top-order, Pakistan T20 openers Sharjeel and Khalid Latif form a fearsome pair with Smith and Watson potential game changers on their own.
Misbah is still a big force in the middle-order especially with his ability of striking big against the slow bowlers.
United also possess a potent T20 weapon in West Indian all-rounder Andre Russell who has a knack of winning silverware in leagues all around the world besides his crowning glory with the West Indian team in last year’s WorldT20 in India.
Sami and Mohammad Irfan will spearhead the bowling line-up once again, Sami has abundance of experience in the T20 format and even with his advancing age his ability of generating pace is an attribute that hasn’t left him.
Irfan is one of the most awkward bowlers in the game with his height and the ability of generating bounce on even the most docile pitch. United also have a decent battery of spin bowlers led by the legendary Saeed Ajmal who would be assisted by Imran’s left-arm spin that bamboozled the Zalmi batting order in the crucial play-off at the Dubai International Stadium.
United have the armoury to repeat their success and after their stunning victory in the opening season their stakes are even higher for the 2017 season.
Their rivals now know for sure that United are never down and out even when they seem down and out.