The defending champions of the Pakistan Super League are a strong contender to make it two in two. Well, that will be truly magical, considering the fact that Lahore had to wait 7 years before claiming their first PSL title. They found themselves at the bottom of the points table in all the first 4 seasons.
Their misery ended in PSL 2020 when they reached the playoffs for the first time. Qalandars also played the finals of that season, where they suffered a loss against arch-rivals Karachi Kings. Then, their wait for the trophy ended in 2022 when Shaheen Shah Afridi led them to glory.
Keep reading to know the squad analysis and performance predictions for Lahore Qalandars.
Lahore Qalandars Squad Breakdown
Batsmen: Abdullah Shafique, Kamran Ghulam, Fakhar Zaman, Hussain Talat, Jalat Khan, Ahsan Bhatti, Shawaiz Irfan, Mirza Tahir Baig, Jordan Cox(wk), Sam Billings(wk), Shane Dadswell, Kusal Mendis(wk)
All-Rounders: Sikandar Raza, Liam Dawson, David Wiese, Rashid Khan
Fast-Bowlers: Shaheen Shah Afridi(c), Haris Rauf, Dilbar Hussain, Zaman Khan, Ahmed Danyal
LQ Squad Strengths
Lahore Qalandars have formed a strong squad for the PSL 2023, and here are its biggest strengths:
Impeccable Bowling Lineup
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Having Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, and Rashid Khan in their team will be a dream come true for any franchise in the world. Lahore have got all three of them, and they make this team a force to reckon with. Shaheen is deadly dangerous with the new ball due to his ability to swing the ball sharply. Even if he doesn’t pick wickets in his opening spell, he is hard to get away for even run a ball. He is also superb with his yorker and variations at the death.
After Shaheen, Rauf comes in to bowl, and he usually threatens to take a wicket in every over. He picks wickets in the powerplay, dismisses batters in the middle overs, and is terrific at the death. Considering his current form and performances, it won’t be wrong to say that he will be LQ’s most important bowler in PSL 8.
Along with these two world-class fast bowlers, Qalandars also have the best T20 spinner in the world. Rashid Khan will be the Qalandar’s main spinner, and there couldn’t be a better option. His fast leg breaks and googlies pose a huge challenge for the opposition’s batters. Also, the conditions in Pakistan support his style of bowling.
Apart from these 3 blokes, LQ have also got Zaman Khan, who is a brilliant death overs bowler. Then, David Wiese can give them 2 to 3 overs at any stage of the overs. Sikandar Raza can operate with Rashid Khan in tandem during the middle phase of the innings. Wiese and Raza have been brilliant with the ball in T20 cricket of late. All in all, Qalandara have got a formidable bowling lineup that can defend even a below-par total.
Solid Opening Pair
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LQ’s Fakhar Zaman was the highest run scorer in PSL 2022. The opening pair of Fakhar Zaman and Abdullah Shafique was pivotal in their triumph. Lahore got strong starts in most of their games, and it resulted in a solid platform for the rest of the batters. If they can get similar contributions from Abdullah and Fakhar this year as well, their batting can flourish again.
LQ Squad Weaknesses
Despite having a solid all-round squad, Qalandars have a weak zone in it. Let’s discuss it in detail:
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In PSL 2022, Mohammad Hafeez and Harry Brook were the two mainstays in Lahore’s middle order. Hafeez was the Player of the Match in the final, and Brook was impressive throughout the tournament. But Hafeez was released by Qalandars, and Brook isn’t available due to his England’s busy schedule.
In this situation, we will see a new look middle order for the Qalandars. Kamran Ghulam is likely to bat at #3, but his strike rate in T20 cricket is just 123. Moreover, Jordan Cox will be playing in Pakistan for the first time. Sikandar Raza is enjoying his golden run of form, but the rest of these batters don’t look promising. So, this middle-order can crumble easily under pressure.
Ideal Starting XI
Considering the Qalandars’ squad, here’s their best available XI:
- Abdullah Shafique
- Fakhar Zaman
- Kamran Ghulam
- Sam Billings(wk),
- Sikandar Raza
- Hussain Talat
- David Wiese
- Rashid Khan
- Shaheen Shah Afridi(c)
- Haris Rauf
- Zaman Khan
Performance Prediction for Lahore Qalandars
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Lahore Qalandars are one of the hot favourite sides for PSL 2023. Their bowling is as good as any franchise team in the world can have. Also, they have a reliable opening pair at the top. With David Wiese and Rashid Khan as finishers, they can always expect to finish at a high.
Therefore, Lahore should finish in either of the top 2 positions in the points table. They should play in the final as well. However, expecting them to win their second PSL title in a row may be a bit too much to expect. Hence, we predict the Lahore Qalandars to finish the PSL 2023 as the runner-up.