Karachi Kings: Story of poor planning and execution

Karachi Kings: Story of poor planning and execution

Synopsis

Their performance in the PSL 7 is just a depiction of the deep-rooted problems in the franchise

Karachi Kings: Story of poor planning and execution
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Karachi Kings, the team belonging to the biggest city of the country in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), have been quite ordinary throughout seven editions of the league. However, this time, they were awful during the whole tournament.

The PSL 2020 champions looked toothless in the campaign, losing nine of the 10 games they played.

Even before the tournament kicked off, the Kings looked miserable, given their strange choice of players during the draft and heavily relying on the permanent components of their team like the newly appointed skipper Babar Azam, Sharjeel Khan, Imad Wasim and Chris Jordan.

How Karachi Kings performed in the recent edition of the league is not because of some sudden crisis. They have a deep-rooted problem, which is just highlighted in this season.

The Salman Iqbal-owned franchise have been skeptical of experimenting since its inception.

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If one has followed PSL regularly, they would know that the teams with competent local players usually perform the best. On the other hand, Kings always seem to rely on big names and foreign players, not giving enough opportunities to the youngsters and local stars.

Peshawar Zalmi have given Pakistan stars like Hasan Ali, Islamabad United have produced Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Rumman Raees and others, Lahore Qalandars have gifted the world with Haris Rauf and Fakhar Zaman, Quetta Gladiators have put forward talents like Mohammad Nawaz and Ahsan Ali, Multan Sultans have polished Shahnawaz Dahani and Karachi Kings have put forth… who? Actually, they could not produce a single star so far.

You might wonder about the reason behind it. Well, there are two main reasons. First, they do not have anyone in the management who can identify blossoming cricketers from the domestic circuit. Someone like Hasan Cheema or Rehanul Haq in United, like Abdul Rehman in Sultans and like Arshad Khan, Mohammad Akram in Zalmi . Second, even when they play an emerging player, they hardly give him any exposure.

In the 2016 edition, Kings had drafted Saifullah Bangash in the Emerging player category. The wicketkeeper-batter had represented Pakistan in the 2014 U-19 World Cup. However, when he was drafted by the then most expensive franchise of PSL, he played only four games and batted at 7, 8 and 9 positions.

He was retained for the next two seasons but could not get a game for the team and then was nowhere to be found.

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Other young and old domestic performers along with emerging players have met a similar fate with the franchise.

To name a few, all-rounder Hasan Mohsin, experienced pacer Tabish Khan, products of their talent hunt programme fast-bowler Mushtaq Kalhoro and batter Ammad Alam, and even the PSL 7 sensation Mohammad Haris warmed the bench in the Kings’ camp. They have all been a part of Karachi Kings’ squad and were released without being given many opportunities to showcase their skills.

Meanwhile, spinners Abrar Ahmed and Umer Khan were released by the franchise despite having a decent run.

It has been almost a set pattern that the Kings follow, which has been the reason for their mediocrity in the previous seasons and failure in the latest one.

 

What cost KK?

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Karachi Kings had a forgettable PSL 7, to say the least. Winning just one contest out of 10, despite having the top-ranked T20 batter in the team.

 

Drafts

The former champions’ downfall started on December 12, 2021, when the marquee was set for the players’ draft.

First of all, the Kings started their journey downhill by retaining arguably the spent forces like Mohammad Amir, who has been out of form for long enough to be snubbed, Sharjeel Khan, who lacks consistency and fitness, Mohammad Nabi, who can be a match-winner on his day but not dependent enough to be a key middle-order batter.

Karachi Kings made some bizarre calls in the drafts, yet they had a few good prospects in the ranks like England’s Tom Abell and West Indies’ Romario Shephard. However, both had to pull out of the league due to a knee injury and national duty, respectively.

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They were replaced by England’s 35-year-old Ian Cockbain and Tom Lammonby, who averages 19.68 in the 20-over format.

The team management seemed keen to pick almost every all-rounder available in the draft. They selected Lewis Gregory, Mohammad Taha, Qasim Akram, Jordan Thompson and Lammonby, which made the management look clueless about the plan.

 

Team selection

The Kings for the first three games had just three specialist batters in the rank, Babar Azam, Sharjeel Khan and Joe Clarke. After them, there was a group of bits-and-pieces players in the likes of Gregory, Lammonby, Nabi, Aamer Yamin, Imad Wasim and others.

This definitely had to result in a disaster and it did. Afterwards, they included Sahibzada Farhan in the line-up, but in his first game in the Blue and Red, he was sent out to bat at number 7, ignoring the fact that he is a top-order batter.

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KK, apart from Sharjeel and Babar, looked towards Joe Clarke for runs, who was in sublime touch during Australia’s Big Bash League. However, PSL turned out to be a totally different ballgame for the wicketkeeper-batter and he failed to perform.

As a result, they placed Farhan behind the stumps, who is a part-time keeper. It was an ironic decision as the former champions had Pakistan’s former U-19 captain Rohail Nazir, who is highly rated as a batter and wicketkeeper, sitting in the dugout.

Nazir could only get a chance in the playing XI in three games when the Kings were almost knocked out of the tournament.

 

Lack of experimentation

Their star fast-bowler Mohammad Amir was ruled out of the tournament due to an injury, which dented their plans. Further, young Mohammad Ilyas, who was decent in his first few games also had to sit out after sustaining an injury.

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The duo was replaced by Usman Shinwari and Mir Hamza. For the first few games, the Kings persisted with Shinwari, while Hamza kept warming the bench.

However, when Hamza was given a chance, he turned out to be one of the best performers for the team in the four games he featured.

Despite back-to-back failures, the Kings did not opt to experiment. They continued with the pre-programmed formation of four foreign players and seven locals, despite constant disappointing performances from their foreign stars.

On the other hand, successful teams like Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi went for different formations when they were under crisis. In fact, in a game, Zalmi played just one foreigner – Hazratullah Zazai – along with ten local players. They also played Haris and Yasir Khan, two Emerging players, together.

 

Poor utilisation of players

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Another reason for Karachi Kings’ horrendous performance throughout the tournament was the poor utilisation of their players.

As mentioned above, batting Sahibzada Farhan at number 7 is a complete waste of that talented batter.

You remember how Bangash was underused by the franchise in 2016? Similarly, Mohammad Taha, who was featuring Karachi Kings’ squad for the second time, was the emerging player for the franchise. However, he appeared to be a filler in the side, with no responsibilities given.

The budding left-handed batter played five matches for his team, while he was sent out to bat only on two occasions. He is considered a decent batter, however, when he was given an opportunity, he batted at seventh and ninth position. In other games, despite being five or six down, Karachi Kings didn’t allow the youngster to go out in the middle.

You might wonder that Taha was given a chance as a bowling all-rounder. Interestingly, the left-arm spinner bowled in just one game where he conceded 32 runs in his four overs, clearly not bad by any stretch.

Furthermore, Qasim Akram, who also by the way was in Karachi Kings’ squad for the second time, replaced Taha as the emerging player in the playing XI after he returned from the U19 World Cup.

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The U19 captain has a reputation of a future star, capable with both the bat and ball in the hand. He was also not used wisely by the franchise.

Akram was a part of the playing XI in five encounters, where he bowled only two overs. The young off-spinner bowled an over against Peshawar Zalmi, conceding seven runs for a wicket, that too of Liam Livingstone. He was not given another over by captain Babar. Then he bowled the other over later in the tournament against Quetta Gladiators, which went for 11 runs. This was all from the young sensation with the ball.

Meanwhile, he batted in four innings, scoring 99 runs, including a 26-ball 51 against Islamabad United.

Moreover, Faisal Akram, the left-arm wrist-spinner who could have been a weapon, Talha Ahsan, an 18-year-old leggie, were ignored throughout the league.

The only two bowlers who bowled the complete quota of their overs in all the games were Chris Jordan and Mir Hamza. Whereas, Aamer Yamin, who shared the new ball with Imad Wasim in the five games he played, bowled only 11 overs.

Though Yamin was on the expensive side in the tournament, leaking runs at 10.27 per over, he should have been given more opportunities to bowl.

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Batting debacle

Karachi Kings’ poor selection in terms of batting was reflected in their performance.

Unsurprisingly, captain Babar Azam remained the pick of the batters with 343 runs at an average of 38.11 and a slow strike rate of 118.68. Meanwhile, Sharjeel Khan was the second-highest scorer after cumulating 231 runs at an average of 23.10 along with a strike rate of 130.50. Joe Clarke stood as the third-highest run-getter for the franchise, scoring 174 runs at an average of 23.85 and a strike rate of 119.17.

Remarkably, these were the three specialist batters in the line-up, which says a lot about their choice of players.

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Meanwhile, the young Akram was their best striker in the tournament as he maintained an impressive strike rate of 154.68 in the games he played.

The only evident disappointment in the batting department was Farhan, who scored merely 51 runs in five matches, while a batting catastrophe was always on the cards.

Though Kings were decent with the ball, they could not get the outcomes in their favour. The management should take note of these deep-seeped problems in their thought process and the think tank and look to fix it, otherwise, the disappointment for the Karachi fans might continue for some seasons to come.

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