Qalandars endured a disappointing run in the inaugural PSL season, the popular franchise failed to make a mark on the field bowing out of the competition even before the playoffs.
Qalandars struggled with their bowling combination while the batsmen other than the odd innings and some consistent performances by Umar Akmal in the top-order failed to score enough runs on the largely batting friendly Sharjah and Dubai pitches.
But after almost a year of meticulous planning and rebuilding, Qalandars are back in the reckoning and look a formidable force for PSL 2017.
The team management now includes Aaqib Javed and Test all-rounder Mudassar Nazar, besides Pady Upton and Ijaz Ahmed. Qalandars have also rejigged their squad majorly for the upcoming edition. The captaincy baton has been handed over to New Zealand legend Brendon McCullum who took his country to the World Cup final in 2015 for the first time in their history.
McCullum leads the batting unit with Akmal still a vital cog in the line-up, upcoming opener Fakhar Zaman is also in the fray along with wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan, Cameron Delport and Azhar Ali; Azhar led the team in the 2016 season.
England’s hard-hitting opener Jason Roy will also serve Qalandars for the opening two weeks of the competition.
There is enough firepower in the batting ranks with McCullum in the top-order, besides the Black Caps recruit the Qalandars have made another major pick in West Indian spinner Sunil Narine who has been one of the top T20 bowlers through his nagging accuracy and variety.
Narine will be backed up by talented spin bowling duo of Zafar Gohar and Usman Qadir, Gohar has already donned the national colours and is rated as one of the brightest slow bowling prospects in the country.
Qalandars have also included Sohail Tanvir and Bilawal Bhatti to bolster their bowling further, both Tanvir and Bhatti represented Kings in the first season. Tanvir made a resounding comeback to the Pakistan T20I team for the series against West Indies last year and his abundance of experience in the shortest format makes him the spearhead of the bowling attack.
Bhatti is also a capable bowling option and can also wield the willow effectively in the lower order; the lower order is further strengthened by the presence of Aamer Yamin who is going to don the Qalandars kit for the 2017 season after representing Zalmi in 2016.
Yamin, Tanvir and Bhatti provide real strength to the all-rounders category and McCullum will have high hopes from the trio in his title bid.
McCullum is one of the most inspirational leaders in the modern game, his innovative and fearless style of captaincy turned the Black Caps in one of the most feared teams around the world, the wicket-keeper batsman has abundance of experience of plying his trade on Asian wickets and is set to be one of the major PSL attractions.
The Qalandars think-tank are determined to turn the tide and make a big impression in the tournament, on paper at least the franchise has the ammunition that can see them all the way through to a potential final appearance at the Gaddafi Stadium on March 5.