GeneralPSL 9: Islamabad United Preview

PSL 9: Islamabad United Preview


Islamabad United enter PSL 9 with some new faces – both in the squad and the management. Most significantly, they have recruited Mike Hesson to take over as Head Coach. The changes have come after their performances in the last few seasons, where United have had mixed fortunes. Although they consistently reach the playoffs, they haven’t gotten across the finish line – or indeed reached a final – since their last title win in 2018. Shadab Khan continues in his role as the captain of the franchise. Islamabad begin their tournament in Lahore and indeed play 3 of their first 4 games at Gaddafi, while 4 of their last 5 games in the group stage will be played at their home ground of Pindi Cricket Stadium.



  • Shadab Khan
  • Naseem Shah
  • Azam Khan
  • Imad Wasim
  • Faheem Ashraf
  • Rumman Raees
  • Salman Ali Agha
  • Qasim Akram
  • Shahab Khan
  • Haider Ali


  • Jordan Cox
  • Tymal Mills
  • Alex Hales
  • Colin Munro
  • Matthew Forde
  • Obed McCoy
  • Muhammad Waseem


  • Hunain Shah
  • Ubaid Shah
  • Shamyl Hussain


Islamabad United’s top order is spearheaded by the returning Alex Hales and Colin Munro – that they are both on the wrong side of 35 may be a cause for concern. They have two further overseas top-order options in Jordan Cox and UAE’s Muhammad Waseem. Emerging Shamyl Hussain and locals Salman Ali Agha and Haider Ali are likely to be other choices to bat in United’s top 3.

Azam Khan will be the focal point of United’s middle order, having established himself there in the past 2 seasons. He will be surrounded by a host of local all-rounders in Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, and new recruits Imad Wasim and Qasim Akram. Jordan Cox, who has T20 experience of batting in a variety of roles, appears likely to be a fixture in the middle order, possibly for the finisher role.

An area where United have conducted a complete overhaul is their fast-bowling attack. Faheem Ashraf and Rumman Raees are the only ones who also featured for them last year. Naseem Shah, obtained in a blockbuster trade, is the new leader of the attack. Their overseas pacers include Matthew Forde, Obed McCoy, and Tymal Mills. Additionally, they also have the services of Shahab Khan, the top wicket-taker of the National T20, and the other two (emerging) Shah brothers, Hunain and Ubaid.

Islamabad’s spin-bowling unit is led by captain Shadab Khan, the only wrist spinner in the squad. New arrival Imad Wasim will complement him with his left-arm spin, while they also have the services of Salman Ali Agha and Qasim Akram for orthodox right-arm off spin.


One of the defining features of almost any Islamabad United lineup is its batting explosiveness, and that trend continues with their squad for PSL 9. Hales, Munro, and Waseem are all strong six-hitters and attacking top-order options, while Shamyl has impressive range for a Pakistan U19 batter. Haider, if he rediscovers his form, can be explosive with the bat. Shadab hits hard in the middle overs, while Azam’s power has earned him recognition in leagues across the world. Cox is a powerful force in the middle order in T20s, and Faheem has excelled with the bat, particularly in the last two seasons. Even their bowling options contain six-hitting power in Forde, Shahab, and the Shah brothers.

With the non-availability of the likes of Miller, David, etc., Islamabad now have the strongest middle and lower-middle order in the league. United have been very strong in the middle for the last two seasons, with Azam providing a focal point, ably assisted by Faheem, whose performances with the bat have gone under the radar, and Shadab. Imad adds another dimension to their lineup, providing another LHB option, while Cox has a very impressive T20 record batting between 4-6 (38 avg, 146 SR), with strong numbers at the death.

Islamabad United’s new-look bowling attack has plenty of variety and all-rounders. They have as many as 5 right-arm pace options, 4 left-arm pace options, Pakistan’s best T20 leg-spin (when in form) and left-arm spin options, and two batting all-rounders who bowl off spin to provide match-up possibilities. It’s likely that they will have 7 bowling options in their starting XI at any given time, with all their spinners more than capable with the bat, while Faheem will provide the all-round pace option.


One of the primary concerns for Islamabad may be the form of their key players. Shadab hasn’t yet shown signs of recovering from his prolonged slump and is also returning from an injury break after suffering an ankle injury. Munro has had a tough couple of months in the back end of the BBL followed by the ILT20. Hales struggled last year in the PSL, and his performance in the last year or so isn’t quite what it was in the few years prior to that. Cox, too, hasn’t had the best of times recently in the BBL and ILT20. The form of their overseas batsmen likely led to the late selection of Waseem after Tom Curran was ruled out. Naseem is also yet to play at the top level since recovering from his injury and may need a few games to get back to his best.

Related to the form of their key players is their bowling attack. Islamabad’s local pacers, besides Naseem, are either inexperienced (Shahab, Hunain, Ubaid) or not in their prime (Rumman). It’s also unclear if Naseem will play the whole tournament, as United have stated they may manage his workload, particularly to ensure that he’s available for the end of the tournament. This will put a lot of pressure on their overseas pacer to shine. Shadab finding his mojo once again with the ball is crucial for Islamabad, too, for the middle overs and particularly for their home games in Rawalpindi, where bowling finger spin or part-timers becomes more of a gamble.

Team Composition

Possible Starting XI

  • Alex Hales ✈️
  • Colin Munro ✈️
  • Salman Ali Agha
  • Shadab Khan 🧢
  • Azam Khan 🧤
  • Jordan Cox ✈️
  • Faheem Ashraf
  • Imad Wasim
  • Naseem Shah
  • Hunain Shah 🧒🏽
  • Obed McCoy ✈️

Most of Islamabad’s combination is settled – in recent seasons, they’ve usually played 3 overseas top-order batsmen, followed by their local middle order and a bowling attack containing one emerging and one overseas option. They will retain the foreign opening combination, while indications are that Salman will slot in at number 3 – with Islamabad keen to have an off-spin option in the XI – and Cox will take up the spot left vacant by Asif Ali. Imad provides an option as a floater, with the whole batting lineup being fairly flexible.

There are some concerns about foreign player availability. Forde and McCoy are currently playing in the Bangladesh Premier League, and it’s unclear when they will join the side. That could leave Mills as the only overseas bowling option in the squad until their arrival. Although Mills hasn’t been in the best form recently, this could work out for Islamabad in terms of roles, as they could use him mostly in the middle and at the death, allowing the likes of Naseem, Imad, and Faheem to bowl in the powerplay. The exciting Shah brothers also offer different strengths, and Hunain has more T20 experience.

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