‘Data-driven’ Islamabad United start PSL campaign against reeling Karachi

Two-time champions Islamabad United will rely on data to have an edge over their opponents in the HBL Pakistan Super League as they start this season’s campaign against Karachi Kings here at the National Stadium on Thursday.

Although all teams use bits and pieces of information about certain behaviours and traits of the players of other participating sides, the Islamabad outfit’s management has been more vocal about their reliance on modern day procedures.

Up against Karachi — who went down to a narrow loss against Peshawar Zalmi in their opening match on Tuesday — Islamabad will go into the match with full knowledge about the Imad Wasim-led side.

“We are a data-driven team so we know what their strengths and weaknesses are and we will use match-ups as well against them,” Islamabad head coach Azhar Mahmood said during a pre-match press conference here on Wednesday.

Azhar and his team, however, will not take the reeling Karachi easy, especially after how

Imad led their fightback after a jittery start to their chase of 200 runs, though he failed to finish the job.

“Karachi will be under pressure after having lost the first match,” said Azhar.

“They played really well, especially how they fought back after losing four quick wickets. That shows the quality of their players.”

Islamabad boast a squad full of international players led by Pakistan’s spin all-rounder Shadab Khan. Although their pace bowling battery doesn’t feature star players, their batting resources are rich.

They’ll relish having flamboyant Irish opener Paul Stirling along with New Zealand’s Colin Munro at the top of the order.

South African Rassie van der Dussen and English batter Gus Atkinson will make up the middle-order.

Azhar said having a good number of players to choose from was always a “good headache” for his team and that it helped the side’s think tank to pick players according to match-ups.

“Last year we had a lot of injuries and having options really helped us,” said the former Pakistan all-rounder.

“Me, our captain, Hassan Cheema and Rehan-ul-Haq discuss together on which players to pick given the venue, opposition and other factors.

“The cricket however has to be played in the ground and execution is down to the players.”

Azhar was confident his players were in form and had rhythm behind them.

“We are well-prepared, most of our players have been playing regular cricket lately, both foreign and local players were involved in different leagues,” he said.

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