Islamabad United is the only team in PSL history to win the competition twice. They won their first title in the inaugural season of the league in 2016. Then, they won the Championship again in 2018 to make it 2 out of 3 titles. Islamabad is a team that banks heavily on its local players, but their top order comprises overseas players.
Here, we will discuss how the team United stacks up for the upcoming edition. We will also talk about the key strengths and weaknesses of their squad. Then, we will introduce you to their ideal starting XI and our prediction for their journey in PSL 2023.
So, let’s start.
Islamabad United Squad Breakdown
Batsmen: Alex Hales, Paul Stirling, Rahmanullah Gurbaz(wk), Colin Munro, Azam Khan(wk), Sohaib Maqsood, Asif Ali, Hassan Nawaz
All-Rounders: Shadab Khan(c), Moeen Ali, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Faheem Ashraf, Tom Curran, Gus Atkinson, Mubasir Khan
Fast-Bowlers: Hasan Ali, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Rumman Raees, Zeeshan Zamir, Tymal Mills
Spinners: Zafar Gohar, Abrar Ahmed
IU Squad Strengths
Underlying are the strong areas of the Islamabad team:
An Abundance of Power Hitters
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When it comes to power-hitting, Islamabad United are blessed with a lot of options. For the two opening slots, they have four options in the form of Alex Hales, Paul Stirling, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, and Hassan Nawaz. Hassan Nawaz is a young opener who caught the eye of fans and selectors in the Kashmir Premier League. Alex Hales was their leading run-scorer in PSL 2022.
Then, they also have got Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who can hit bowlers at will on his day. Lastly, the experience of Paul Stirling is also available for United. So, the top order of Islamabad is all about power and destruction. The middle order is no different, as the likes of Moeen Ali, Colin Munro, Sohaib Maqsood, and Azam Khan are there.
Talking about the finishers, the Islamabad squad has Asif Ali, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Faheem Ashraf, Tom Curran, Gus Atkinson, Zafar Gohar, and Hasan Ali in their squad. It equates to 15 power hitters in a single franchise squad, 11 of which are well-known cricketers in franchise cricket. Therefore, United can form a batting lineup that can go hard at the bowling from ball one.
Plenty of All-Rounders
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The number of all-rounders in IU’s squad are probably the most in any franchise squad. The spin-bowling all-rounders include Shadab Khan, Moeen Ali, Zafar Gohar, and Mubasir Khan. Whereas Faheem Ashraf, Mohammed Waseem Jnr, Hasan Ali, Gus Atkinson, and Tom Curran. Out of these 8 all-rounders, 5 are likely to be part of their first-choice XI.
Those 5 players are Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Moeen Ali, Mohammed Waseem Jnr, and Hasan Ali. The most important all-rounder for them is their skipper Shadab Khan. He usually bats at #3 or #4 and anchors the innings of a batting lineup dominated by power hitters. Shadab is also the most important bowler in the team, as he controls the middle phase of their bowling innings.
Faheem Ashraf has Islamabad’s best bowler in the PSL and can strike a few lusty blows in the death overs. Moeen Ali bats in the middle order and can pick crucial wickets with the ball. Mohammed Waseem Jnr and Hasan Ali will be crucial in their fast-bowling department and can provide brisk cameos in the final overs.
A Deadly Spin Attack
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Shadab Khan will lead the Islamabad United spin bowlers in the league. The leggie is the 4th highest wicket-taker in PSL history and has the most wickets in the tournament’s history as a spinner. He has 65 PSL wickets at an economy rate of 7.26 runs per over. Apart from him, the United may go with Abrar Ahmed. The mystery spinner has been incredible in test cricket since his debut. In his 17 matches in T20 cricket, Abrar has got 19 wickets at an economy rate of 7.63.
However, his talent is a lot more than these numbers. Moeen Ali will provide the United with the third spin-bowling option. He can bowl in the powerplay with great control and also has the ability to make things happen in the middle overs. Zafar Gohar is another spinner in their squad who gives the variety of a left-arm spinner in their squad.
IU Squad Weaknesses
Underlying is the only area of concern for the team United:
One-Dimensional Pace Attack
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The United pace attack will comprise Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, and Mohammed Waseem Jr. All three pacers usually bowl around 135 to 140 kph, and none of them is a new ball specialist. They normally come to bowl after the powerplay. Also, Faheem and Hasan struggle in the slog overs. To improve this aspect, they can bring in the young Zeeshan Zameer, who is lethal with the new ball and bowls regularly in excess of 140 clicks.
Ideal Starting XI
Here are the 11 players who can form the best playing XI for the United:
- Paul Stirling
- Alex Hales
- Rahmanullah Gurbaz
- Shadab Khan(c)
- Moeen Ali
- Azam Khan(wk)
- Asif Ali
- Faheem Ashraf
- Mohammad Wasim Jnr
- Hasan Ali
- Abrar Ahmed
Performance Prediction for Islamabad United
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Islamabad is a strong team with depth in their bowling as well as batting. Their best XI bats well till the #10 and will have 6 proper bowling options. United have a strong and dynamic batting lineup with an abundance of power hitters. With two to three spin bowling options, they have a spin attack on which they can rely every day.
The pace battery includes Faheem Ashraf, Mohammed Waseem Jnr, and Hasan Ali. They also have a superbly talented young fast bowler named Zeeshan Zameer, who is potentially the next superstar bowler of Pakistan. So, this strong IU team should finish 3rd on the points table and might get eliminator by Lahore Qalandars or Multan Sultans in the playoffs.