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Sharjeel Khan's potential comeback in the spotlight as Kings lock horns with Zalmi
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Sharjeel Khan's potential comeback in the spotlight as Kings lock horns with Zalmi

Karachi's fervent crowd will witness their home team in action on the second day of the fifth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) as they take on runners-up of the previous season – Peshawar Zalmi.

As the likes of Babar Azam, Mohammad Amir, Kamran Akmal and Hasan Ali take center stage, the spotlight will be landing on hard-hitting southpaw Sharjeel Khan, who returns from a two-year absence.

Sharjeel makes a comeback to competitive cricket following his fall into the depths of notoriety after being embroiled in the ignominious spot-fixing scandal in PSL 2017.

Sharjeel was involved in the nefarious plan to play out a couple of dot deliveries in the contest against Peshawar Zalmi. He was initially handed out a five-year suspension, which was eventually shortened to half of the sentence as he offered an unconditional apology to the Pakistan Cricket Board.

The 30-year-old's change of teams in the PSL coincides with Pakistan's dearth of belligerent batsmen who can clear the boundary fence with ease. Sharjeel holds the record of conjuring the first-ever century in PSL history when he smashed 117 off 62 balls against Peshawar Zalmi in the inaugural tournament's eliminator clash.

While doubts still linger over Sharjeel's ability to bring his A game to the fore straight after a prolonged period of forced expulsion, there is no denying he will be hogging the limelight.

Another topic demanding attention is the captaincy test for Imad Wasim with the presence of Pakistan's T20I skipper Babar in the line-up.

Imad's leadership credentials will be under the scanner, especially given the fact that Karachi have faced defeat eight out of the ten times they have locked horns with Peshawar Zalmi in the PSL.

Zalmi's star has brightly shone throughout the past four PSL seasons as the team has gelled well together in Darren Sammy's influential captaincy.

However, fitness issues have continued to plague Sammy and a lack of impactful contributions in other leagues does not bode well for Zalmi's fortunes.

Moreover, Kieron Pollard's unavailability for the first half of the competition reduces Zalmi's batting and bowling depth. His replacement Carlos Brathwaite, on the other hand, although boasts a bit of star power but he has failed to replicate similar levels of consistency.

A flat deck is expected to greet the occasion, resembling the surface used in the tournament opener between Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators. A high-scoring encounter is thus on the cards with both sides' respective batting combinations set to be put to the test.


Karachi Kings: Sharjeel Khan, Babar Azam, Alex Hales, Cameron Delport, Awais Zia, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim (c), Aamer Yamin, Chris Jordan, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Chadwick Walton (wk), Mohammad Amir, Umaid Asif, Umer Khan, Arshad Iqbal, Ali Khan, Usama Mir, Mitchell McClenaghan

Peshawar Zalmi: Imam-ul-Haq, Liam Livingstone, Umar Amin, Haider Ali, Adil Amin, Shoaib Malik, Liam Dawson, Darren Sammy (c), Carlos Brathwaite, Mohammad Mohsin, Lewis Gregory, Tom Banton (wk), Kamran Akmal (wk), Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali, Aamir Ali, Mohammad Amir Khan