A change at the top, but will Multan Sultans have a change of fortunes too?

Mohammad Irfan is mobbed by his team-mates upon picking up a wicket PCB


This is the newest side in the tournament, having had just one season, as opposed to the three seasons the other five have experienced. Multan Sultans also sees change at the top, with Schon Group bowing out, and a consortium headed by businessman Jehangir Tareen's son Ali Tareen taking over.

Multan began their maiden season looking the best side of the league, a rollicking start that saw them win four of their first five completed games propelling them to the top of the table. But four consecutive losses in a slump at the business end of the season edged them out of the top four altogether. They ended up depending on other teams' results going their way to sneak through to the playoffs, but none materialised.

Team overview

Multan were notable last season for building their side around a set of players the other side of 30, at times the other side of 35. But of late, a raft of players T20 cricket may not have given the time of day in its early years have become indispensable assets, the likes of Luke Ronchi, Imran Tahir and Kamran Akmal lending weight to that theory.

This year, too, four key Multan players are over the age of 35, with the franchise having picked up Shahid Afridi and Dan Christian, and retained Mohammad Irfan and Shoaib Malik from last year. The specialist bowling unit is entirely local, with Junaid Khan, Irfan and Mohammad Abbas to lead the charge. Laurie Evans and Tom Moores stand out amongst what could be canny picks, while closer to home, Shan Masood, whose limited-overs stock has risen exponentially over the past 12 months, could come into his own this season, too.


The list of allrounders Multan Sultans can choose from is formidably promising. Andre Russell, Chris Green, Afridi and Christian are assets to T20 sides around the world, providing the prized asset of flexibility.

Multan were also able to retain players who have unquestionably improved since last year's tournament. Abbas stands out as one such example, and while he played no part last year, his exploits with the international team almost make him a guaranteed starter. With Irfan, sensational the previous season - lowest economy rate for any fast bowler - and the ever promising Junaid, Multan possess a varied and challenging fast bowling attack. With Masood also having improved at the top and a glut of allrounders in the middle to tide them over, this is a side that can singe the best on its day.


Is this a side repeating its mistakes from the previous season? There is no weakness from the 2018 side that one could claim has been decidedly rectified here. The players that left include giants (Kumar Sangakarra, Kieron Pollard and Tahir) whose specific roles Multan haven't properly replaced. Fortune wasn't on their side either; Steven Smith, Joe Denly, Nicholas Pooran and Qais Ahmed have all been ruled out late, stripping the side of some players Multan would have wished to build their side around.

The specialist batting lacks obvious firepower, with Multan heavily reliant on some of their fringe picks to carry them through. The English trio of James Vince, Evans and Moores may find themselves shouldering greater responsibility than the club had originally envisioned for them. Should they come through, Multan will appear to have picked ingeniously. But they haven't played the percentages, and the franchise that sought the highest price in the PSL could find themselves paying a heavy price in an even more costly manner.

Key foreign player

This one's easy. In Russell, Multan Sultans have perhaps the first player any T20 franchise would name on their dream wishlists. Russell may have begun his career as a fast bowler, but destructive batting now takes pride of place in the Jamaican's skillset. It helps that he comes in on fire featuring among the top wicket-takers and run-scorers in the BPL. The PSL is well acquainted with his talents, with Russell being the Super Over star in the best game last season, smashing 10 off the last two balls to give his side Islamabad United an epic win over Lahore Qalandars. Russell thrives under pressure, and thrives in the PSL. There is no reason that shouldn't continue now he's with Multan.

Under the radar local player

Aged 26 and having signed on for Islamabad United last year, Umar Siddiq isn't exactly unknown to Pakistan cricket fans. But until now, his career has been spent almost exclusively on the first-class and List A circuits, and there he's found himself doing very well. An opening batsman, he averages around 40 in both List A and first-class cricket, and Multan are a side that very notably lack batsmen high up the order. His T20 workload isn't the most promising - both the average and the strike rate need work. But the left-hander brings a lot of experience from his years in Pakistan domestic cricket, and even if he didn't get much game time for Islamabad, being in that environment will have taught him plenty.

Squad: Shoaib Malik (capt), Shan Masood, Laurie Evans, Umar Siddiq, James Vince, Shahid Afridi, Chris Green, Dan Christian, Andre Russell, Johnson Charles (wk), Tom Moores (wk), Shakeel Ansar (wk), Nauman Ali, Hammad Azam, Mohammad Abbas, Junaid Khan, Muhammad Irfan, Irfan Khan, Ali Shafiq, Muhammad Ilyas, Muhammad Junaid

Management and coaching staff: Johan Botha (head coach), Abdul Rehman (assistant coach), Andrew Leipus (physio), Yasir Malik (strength and conditioning coach) Nadeem Khan (manager) Haider Azhar (general manager cricket operations)