Almost time for Malan and Linde's PSL experience
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Proteas duo George Linde and Janneman Malan will join the Pakistan Super League relatively soon.
The PSL started earlier this year, but was eventually suspended. It will resume in June 2021, but no longer in Pakistan. Instead, all fixtures will be played in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
"We are delighted with this development as the remaining hurdles in the staging of the remaining PSL matches in Abu Dhabi have been overcome and all systems are now good to go," said Pakistan chief executive officer Wasim Khan.
"We are grateful to the UAE government, National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, Emirates Cricket Board and Abu Dhabi Sports Council for their support and patronage in ensuring all final obstacles were removed, which has firmly put us in a position to complete our marquee event.
"The holding of the remaining matches in Abu Dhabi will allow our fans to once again follow and support their favourite players and teams through our high-quality broadcast coverage of one of the most competitive cricket leagues in the world."
Linde and Malan were not part of the competition initially. They have been drafted as replacements. Linde will represent the Multan Sultans. Malan will play for Islamabad United.
Both will be in preparation for the Proteas' tour of the West Indies. Malan will also have a stint with South Africa A against Zimbabwe A, which will coincide with the PSL. Whether he leaves Zimbabwe early and arrives in the UAE belatedly remains in the balance.
The Karachi Kings occupied the top position in the PSL's six-team standings at the time of the suspension, after winning three matches in five attempts. They are priced at 11/4 with betting sites in South Africa such as Betway. The same firm has Linde and the Sultans offered at 6/1 and Malan and United at 2/1.
Busy period for Malan and Linde
Malan and Linde have recent experience against numerous players who will be team-mates or opposition during the PSL. They were part of the Proteas' limited-overs XIs that hosted Pakistan in Johannesburg and Centurion earlier this year.
Malan was in particularly solid form against the Pakistanis, striking a couple of imposing half-centuries at SuperSport Park.
Fresh opportunity for Malan
This stint in the PSL will not be Malan's first association with domestic T20 leagues of global repute. He has played for the Cape Town Blitz in the Mzansi Super League - and was due to be with Leicestershire in last year's T20 Blast in the United Kingdom. That patch with the Running Foxes, though, didn't materialise.
"We exhausted every avenue in trying to get Janneman into the country but issues out of our control have gone against us on this occasion," Leicestershire chief executive officer Sean Jarvis said at the time.
"It is a big blow for us because everyone was looking forward to Janneman playing for us. We would love to see Janneman become a Fox in the future and wish him the best over the next few months."
Malan to play with Khawaja
While United have lost England duo Phil Salt, Alex Hales and Lewis Gregory, they have gained Australian batsman Usman Khawaja as well. Khawaja and Malan could make a formidable pairing at the top of the Islamabad order.
This is not Islamabad's first recruitment of a Cape Cobras player. The veteran JP Duminy has played for them previously. Interestingly, Cobras stalwart Hashim Amla has been the batting coach for PSL franchise Peshawar Zalmi, too. Like Duminy, perhaps Malan can also eventually play in the Indian Premier League.
Linde will probably be harder pressed to graduate to the IPL. That tournament is lined with solid spinning all-rounders, who are familiar with sub-continental conditions. It's not likely the Delhi Capitals, Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders or any other IPL franchise will recruit an overseas spinning all-rounder of limited domestic T20 league experience.