Is it Multans Sultans’ Vaari?

PSL 3 is two days away and the trophy has already been unveiled in Dubai. The stage is set, the teams are ready, and the country can not wait to witness another year of masterclass performances from some of the world’s elite ambassadors of the sport. This year around, the competition has a new entrant from the City of the Saints – Multan Sultan.

The team, spearheaded by veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik, looks up and ready for the task. On paper, there is no stronger unit than the Sultans, and on top of it all, the team has colossal figures in their coaching department in Wasim Akram and Tom Moody. Expectations are high, and there are legitimate reasons for that.

Sultans have a decent batting top-order. Pakistan’s occasional opener Ahmed Shehzad, who spent last two seasons at Quetta Gladiators, has joined hands with the new entrants for this year. Shehzad would be accompanied by middle order batsman and Multan native Sohaib Maqsood, youngster Shan Masood, West Indian power hitter Darren Bravo and legendary Kumar Sangakara.

The batting line-up is stable. It is not necessarily world class if you take out the Lankan, but it guarantees runs on the board, and given it’s Multans day, one could safely forecast fireworks.

In the team’s all-round department, the merits are extremely high. The all-rounder department is stacked. Skipper Shoaib Malik, Sri Lanka’s Thisara Pereira, Sohail Tanvir and Kieron Pollard are not your average all-rounders. The aforementioned individuals are champions in their own right and their experience, specially in this particular format, would help Multan in more ways than one.

But out of all the team’s three department, the bowling one takes the lead by a margin. A team that has pacers Junaid Khan, Umar Gul and Muhammad Irfan, spin wizard Imran Tahir and additional part timers in Shoaib Malik, Thisara Pereira and Kieron Pollard is a team to be feared.

Multan has all the tools to get their hands on the PSL prize. They have unprecedented squad depth, individual experience, skill and a coaching unit that has excelled in their respective fields. Matches, however, are not won on paper. There’s a lot more to cricket than just a mere star-studded, expensive line-up.

The Sultans are going to make their first roll of the dice, against teams that know what it is like to be in the PSL. The other five teams have the experience advantage over Multan, of course as a team. They know the atmosphere, expectations and more so, since most teams have retained their players, they are guaranteed to gel together just about perfectly.

The same can not be said about Multan. It’s a new team, with new players, and to understand and compliment each other takes some time. I might be completely wrong, and maybe Sultans would just fit perfectly, but it is historically proven that all that’s glitter is not gold.

Furthermore, there are question marks on Shoaib Malik’s captaincy. The veteran superstar led the Karachi Kings in previous two editions, but failed to exert his leadership on both occasions. Although Karachi had a decent squad, Malik’s calm and collected aura did not ignite the right amount of fire needed to shoot Karachi to greater heights.

It will be interesting to see how the new entrants fair in their maiden go at PSL. They are without a doubt the strongest squad this year, and it is quite possible that they might run through everybody if they hit the right notes. They have been vocal about their #SaadiVaari campaign, and it might just be their turn.

But regardless of a win or no win, Multan Sultans’ entry is an exciting prospect for the PSL and it would surely take the country’s cricket to greater domestic and international heights.