Lahore: A regenerated Multan Sultans are all set to enter the ninth iteration of the HBL Pakistan Super League.
They begin their campaign at the Sultans Fort, the picturesque Multan Cricket Stadium, on 18 February, a day after the tournament kicks off.
Their first five of the 10 league games are at home and they will go on Pakistan tour from 26 February to play the away games.
Multan has been a daunting destination for the away sides as Sultans enjoy an incredible record of seven wins in eight games here. The champions of the 2021 edition, Multan Sultans have featured in the last three finals and their win percentage of 55.22 is the best for any side since the inception of the HBL PSL in 2016.
“I certainly have huge boots to fill as my uncle [the late Alamgir Tareen] has left a massive legacy,” says Ali Tareen, the owner and chief executive of Multan Sultans. “We are a data-driven and analytics-focused team and have put together a squad keeping in mind the four venues and the player availability in the future editions.
“It is no secret that T20 teams with strong domestic cores have incredible success ratios all over the world, and that is something that we have developed with tactical trade deals and strategic player picks in the HBL PSL 9 Player Draft in December.”
Multan Sultans made exciting trade deals with Quetta Gladiators and Karachi Kings to bag Iftikhar Ahmed, one of the most sought after T20 all-rounders, and Faisal Akram, a 20-year-old rising left-arm wrist spinner, who has taken 20 first-class wickets in three matches with a 10-fer for the match. Multan also snapped first platinum and diamond picks, two of the three gold picks and two of the first four silver picks.
Multan Sultans emboldened their domestic core by picking Tayyab Tahir, Mohammad Ali, Shahnawaz Dahani, Yasir Khan and Aftab Ibrahim. The additions of Reeza Hendricks, Dawid Malan, and Usman Khan further strengthened their batting and David Willey, Reece Topley, and Chris Jordan beefed up their fast bowling stocks.
“Left-arm spinners had an impact in the initial editions of the HBL PSL, but over the last few years, the data suggests their potency has gone down. We had a brilliant season last year, but we could not close it, as we would have liked, because we were just a touch behind in the powerplay and death bowling.
“So now we have put together a squad from which you can make an eleven that will consist of scorching fast bowlers who can bowl in any phase of the game and different style of spinners who can complement them. David Willey, Reece Topley, Chris Jordan along with Abbas Afridi and Dahani make a daunting fast bowling line-up. And, now, throw in our wily spinners - Usama Mir, Faisal Akram, Khushdil Shah, and Iftikhar Ahmed – in the mix and you have a perfect bowling line-up.
“Our batting starts with established T20 stars in Rizwan, Reeza, and Malan, and middle-order boasts the batting firepower of Iftikhar, Khushdil, Tayyab Tahir, Usman Khan, Willey and the list goes on.
“So, I am very much satisfied with what we have been able to put together.
“All the credit goes to our chief strategist Nathan Leamon, head coach Abdul Rehman, development coach Mohammad Wasim and our analyst Waleed Ahmed.”
With the philosophy of providing the best resources to the cricketers so they continue to bring out the best on the field, Multan Sultans have gathered a coaching staff of specialists. Abdul Rehman has recently been part of Pakistan men’s coaching unit and is arguably the most knowledgeable coach when it comes to domestic conditions and players. Mohammad Wasim has recently worked as the national men’s chief selector and continues to coach at the first-class level. Nathan Leamon is widely credited for England’s white-ball revolution that made England the first-ever men’s side to simultaneously hold 50-over and T20 world titles.
Multan Sultans is also the first HBL PSL franchise to introduce women in the coaching set-up with the introduction of Catherine Dalton (fast bowling) and Alexandra Hartley.
“Modern-day cricketers play under tremendous pressures and have a lot of expectations attached with them. T20 teams around the world expect them to be at their best and so do we. It is important that we provide them the best resources in shape of highly knowledgeable and skilled individuals in the dressing room, who can help them in their decision-making and manage them according to the contemporary demands.
“All the coaches in my team are widely respected and have proved themselves. I am often asked about the addition of women in the panel. We at Multan Sultans do not see gender or race, but go for the best available talent and that was exactly the case when we hired Catherine and Alex.
“Catherine has been working at the Multan Sultans academy in Lodhran with fast bowlers like Arshad Iqbal, Sameen Gul, Mohammad Ilyas etc. She worked extensively on their technical aspects that helped them immensely and now they are playing for Pakistan Shaheens or in the first-class teams.
“Alex is a World Cup winner with England in 2017 and she has a lot of information to share with our youngsters. We are committed to working with the boys and girls at grassroots so imagine the benefit the youngsters will have when these coaches will hold camps at the Multan Sultans academy throughout the year.”
Multan Sultans will be arriving in the City of Saints a week before their opening game of the season, which is against Karachi Kings, on 18 February. They will then play Islamabad United and Lahore Qalandars on 20 and 21 before taking on Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators on 23 and 25.
“Multan will be buzzing with excitement. People in this part of Pakistan absolutely love cricket and their passion and love for the game is next to none. It is something underscored by the fact that every match here is sold out. I cannot wait for the action to begin.”
Multan Sultan fixtures for HBL PSL 9
18 February v Karachi Kings, Multan Cricket Stadium
20 February v Islamabad United, Multan Cricket Stadium
21 February v Lahore Qalandars, Multan Cricket Stadium
23 February v Peshawar Zalmi, Multan Cricket Stadium
25 February v Quetta Gladiators, Multan Cricket Stadium
27 February v Lahore Qalandars, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
3 March v Karachi Kings, National Bank Stadium, Karachi
5 March v Peshawar Zalmi, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
10 March v Islamabad United, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
12 March v Quetta Gladiators, National Bank Stadium, Karachi
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