Both Quetta Gladiators and Islamabad United will be hoping to begin their Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2020 on a winning note when they clash in the tournament opener at the National Stadium in Karachi on Thursday.
Quetta clinched their maiden PSL title last season after finishing as runners-up twice.
Islamabad, on the other hand, are two-time winners, having lifted the trophy in the inaugural edition of the league in 2016 and then in 2018.
This time around, both sides look well-balanced with a mix of promising young blood and experienced national and foreign campaigners.
Sarfraz Ahmed-led Quetta has power hitters like Jason Roy, Ahmed Shehzad, Shane Watson, and Ben Cuttings in their ranks.
They, however, suffered a setback on the morning of the Game Day when Pakistan Cricket Board’s anti-corruption unit banned middle-order batsman Umar Akmal from all cricket-related activities. They have named discarded Pakistan all-rounder Anwar Ali as his replacement.
Islamabad’s line-up also looks formidable, featuring mighty hitters like Colin Ingram, Luke Ronchi, Colin Munro, Dawid Malan, and Asif Ali.
With National Stadium’s pitch being historically good for batting, it is expected to be a high-scoring affair. Three of the last five games at this venue have been won by the chasing side.
The head-to-head record between Quetta and Islamabad reads 5-4 in favour of the former after nine games.
Quetta will play their second game against Peshawar Zalmi at the same venue on Sunday. On the same day, Islamabad will play their next match against Lahore Qalandars in Lahore.
Islamabad United: Shadab Khan (Captain), Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Rumman Raees Khan, Colin Munro, Phil Salt, Akif Javed, Luke Ronchi, Hussain Talat, Colin Ingram, Amad Butt, Mohammad Musa Khan, Zafar Gohar, Rizwan Hussain, Saif Badar, Dawid Malan, Ahmed Safi Abdullah.
Quetta Gladiators: Sarfraz Ahmed (Captain), Aarish Ali Khan, Azam Khan, Shane Watson, Mohammad Hasnain, Fawad Ahmed,Ahmed Shehzad, Ben Cutting, Umar Akmal, Jason Roy, Khurram Manzoor, Zahid Mahmood, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Ahsan Ali, Sohail Khan, Tymal Mills, Abdul Nasir.