LAHORE: Multan Sultans made their HBL Pakistan Super League debut in 2018 and have established themselves as the most successful team. Their win percentage of 57.54 is the most amongst the six sides. They lifted their first HBL PSL title in 2021 and were the runner-up in 2022.
With the eighth edition of the HBL Pakistan Super League around the corner, Multan Sultans are eager to continue their exciting run and become just the second team to win the coveted trophy twice.
Multan Sultans will open their campaign in their backyard against defending champions Lahore Qalandars on 13 February. In the 2022 final at the Gaddafi Stadium, Qalandars had defeated Sultans by 42 runs.
PCB Digital spoke with Multan Sultans’ head coach Andy Flower about his side’s preparations and chances. Below are the excerpts of the interview, which is available on the HBL PSL YouTube Channel.
What has made Multan Sultans such a successful side?
There are a number of reasons for it. Firstly, it is the human beings out there who are competing. So, our players have done an outstanding job by always putting us in a position to compete for the title. Shan [Masood] started the captaincy of Multan when I started with Multan and he did an outstanding job. And since [Mohammad] Rizwan has taken over, he has also been outstanding as a leader. So that’s a good starting point.
The leadership of Ali Tareen, initially, and now Alamgir Tareen has also played a role. I have really appreciated their direction, their passion for Multan Sultans and for Pakistan cricket. Their passion drives us forward to do well. Haider [Azhar] as our chief executive has been the brains behind the operations and he is a smart guy.
We have a really good and solid coaching staff with good local knowledge. It has been particularly brilliant to have Mushtaq Ahmed and Abdur Rahman by my side and get their input and direction. Moreover, Talha is an outstanding analyst with really good, intimate knowledge of not only Pakistani players but of international cricketers and Pakistan conditions.
It is a combination of those things that have worked really well for us over the years.
How did the draft go for you and who are the players to look forward to in your side?
The draft is a hugely important part of the whole franchise process. We are happy with the way the draft went and we think we have a good squad together. The squad we have put together gives us various options of how to balance our team. The coach and the captain are always trying to balance the team and try to give it a stronger bowling line up with as many variations as possible with a fairly lengthy batting order.
We tend to have really high quality in our top six and then a really diverse and hopefully intelligent bowling attack. So, we’re happy with the way the draft went and the replacement draft that’s just happened. Getting the quality of someone like [Kieron] Pollard in that replacement draft is really important and all-rounder Wayne Parnell
I’m really looking forward to working with Usama Mir. I know Mushtaq Ahmed, our spin bowling and assistant coach, really likes him, and so I am really looking forward to what he can do for us this season. If you have good local players, that gives you the best chance in the tournament. It is not all about the overseas players at all. It’s about having good, strong, talented local player.
Shan and Rizwan should not go without mention at the top of the order. They are a great combination and good strong Pakistani men that help us as a team stay strong. Shahnawaz Dhani is super exciting and always great fun to be around. I am looking forward to him getting back into some form.
I am very excited to see Ihsanullah do his things. We saw him as an emerging talent last year, so we used him briefly. I know that he has had some very good domestic performances and he bowls with genuine pace. He attacks a bit like Dahani, so that is going to be very exciting, not only for us, but also for Multan and Pakistan fans. He’s a very exciting prospect who bowls a real pace . And we all know that real pace is very exciting to watch. So, that’s going to be great.
What makes a good T20 side?
Balance is importance. Mostly you need power – batting power. The game is still open to those players who are particularly skillful and intelligent because they can still thrive in this environment. There is not one way to skin a cat.
If you are skillful and smart enough, you can definitely thrive in the top order, in top quality T20 cricket, but getting that balance right, getting the right and left handers to operate together and having good players of spin because spin is so important in T20 cricket these days.
It is important to have a bowling attack that offers a variety of different challenges for the batsmen because that allows the captain to call on different skills based on what might challenge particular batsman in the middle. I suppose people call that match ups these days.
Of course, long batting orders are ideal and with power hitters either side of one or maybe two touch players.
You have worked in many leagues around the world. How does the HBL PSL stand out?
Each league has its nuances and its differences. I genuinely have enjoyed my time in the HBL Pakistan Super League. It has been exciting to see the talent that is available. What really stands out for me is the fast bowling and the spin bowling. In the HBL Pakistan Super League, every side has pace and usually every side has a wrist spin. Some of the batting quality is obviously top notch.
I do really like the fact that the Pakistani cricketing public have really bought in to the various franchises and associate themselves with each individual franchise and, therefore, provide the atmosphere that’s so important not only for the players to express their talent in front of, cameras and pass on that feeling of excitement to the viewers on TV.
I think all that stuff is important in developing a great product and the HBL PSL definitely got that.
So, should the Multan fans expect their team to reclaim the title this year?
Yes, why not? They should definitely look forward with hope and expectation. We all want to think positively about Multans’ results. I must say it is important to understand, certainly in our dressing room, that to a large extent, you can’t control results. You can control things like your attitude when you turn up to training or your attitude when you turn up to compete in the match.
Those are the things that are under your control and those are the things that we try to encourage our players and staff to focus on. If you do that well, you have a higher chance of doing well in the tournament. That is how we try to look at it.
I would not want to dampen any of our supporters’ hopes and dreams. We are really looking forward to performing in front of the [home] fans for five of our games this year. We played there before and the atmosphere was sensational. It has a great ground. It has a good pitch. We hope we can make the use of our home conditions, home knowledge.
I cannot wait to get there and to the other venues around Pakistan and then really enjoy an exciting contest.