Coming off a championship run in their inaugural season, GM Hamid Malik is hungry and has been planning for another deep playoff run.
He tried to retain most of the championship squad but contract negotiations fell through as half the team had to part ways and find a new home.
I guess everyone wants to get paid when they become champs.
Regardless, Baghdad brought back some key members in Nirvaan, Aslam, and Ali as they agreed to take a pay cut for another championship as long as Baghdad management signed some big names.
Baghdad took that to heart and went to work right away.
They had the 5th pick in the draft but, GM Hamid Malik didn’t want to wait that long and decided to trade his 5th pick away in exchange for the 2nd overall pick.
With that pick Baghdad selected a proven super star in Ahmad Ammad (Reigning HR Champ/Offensive player of the year) and followed that up with AR Manjra (Reigning Batting champ) who will be holding down the Short stop position for Baghdad.
After securing 2 key fielders/2 of the best bats in the league, Baghdad needed a game changing pitcher and another big bat. When Nirv (Playoff MVP) and Aslam fell to Baghdad, Hamid didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger as those 2 were key in Baghdad’s championship run. Nirvi is a well-rounded player who can not only pitch but when his bat heats up, he makes teams pay. Aslam has quietly emerged as one of the bigger bats and is looking to tear it up this year and give IQ a run for his money at 1B.
In the later rounds Baghdad was surprised to see Salim Jaichi and Fahad Panchbaya last as long as they did as both are fantastic bats and will be playing key roles in Baghdad’s offense/defense.
Akif Waheed, Fawad Shaikh, Ali Furqan and Faisal Shamshad rounded up the rest of the team. Fawad and Ali is expected to take a huge leaps this year as both will be key pieces in Baghdad’s’ outfield. Faisal is a huge bat and will look to find some consistency and possibly take his hitting to the next level. With Coach Nirv working with him, he’ll be clearing the fence in no time. Akif brings stability to team Baghdad and will help by adding depth in the batting lineup.
Overall, Baghdad has some great pieces and are quite happy with their draft. Although projected to finish the regular season somewhere in the middle of the rankings, they have no plans to roll over quietly and give up their crown. If there is going to be another champion this year, you better knock out the champ first! Baghdad is coming for its 2nd ring. Is BSLN ready?
GM Khizer Channa is returning for the second year to lead Cairo. Khizer started the draft by selecting a power bat in Paygham Whahedi. Paygham Whahedi has versitle skills in the field, where he can play Short Stop/Centre field and his power bat is good enough for the big fields.
Khizer also brought back several players from last year, Khurram Channa , Shamil Khadaroo, Hamza Waheed, Yusuf Ingar. With half the team returning to Cairo from prior year, the team chemisty should not be an issue.
Khizer also added a power bat in Suleman Maan, who should also be able to hold down center field. Cairo also added several utility players in Neal Irfan, Kamil Siddiqui, Arsalaan Abdullah, Jibran Khan.
Cario first outing as a team displayed that the team has potential to do really well, if they can play consistent defence. Khizer and Hamza seem to be in mid season form, while Paygham showed that he has the power to hit 305 feet HR's with some adjustments. When Khurram Channa return, they can be a force to be reconked with.
Cordoba enters year 5 under new management, as BSL Nights stalwart Jav Ahmed takes over the leadership and will look to continue Cordoba’s dominance in BSLN.
The Cobra’s have made the finals all 4 years and have come out on top once; but the last 2 finals saw them give up 15 and 14 run leads in the finals to eventually lose.
Jav wasted no time and ensured he was surrounded by guys with high IQ and who have championship pedigree, drafting the multi-talented Hassan Chaudhry to man the OF.
With his next pick, Jav secured the services of one of the best (and former GG winner) shortstops in the league in Usama Mahmoud. Usama has been part of the Cobra’s for many seasons and will try to bring glory back to the team.
With OF and SS locked, the next pick was a no brainer, as Cordoba and BSLN welcomes back OG Tamour Sheikh. T has been out of the league for 2 years but returns with a chip on his shoulder as he looks to dominate the league and go for the HR title.
1 Sheikh wasn’t enough, so Jav drafted Umair Sheikh next, securing his gold glove and his big bat. Umair, often known as the fastest man in the league, is coming off a horrific knee injury, but has spent the past 3 months rehabbing and doesn’t look like he has missed a step.
The next few picks saw Jav draft the best available players who coincidentally both filled needs at important positions and surrounded him with 2 of his closest friends in the league. Both former champions, Zain Malik will look to secure yet another gold glove in the infield, while Riyad Ramjaun will take the mound again.
With his remaining picks, Jav got great value and got steals. Shoaib Gaya was somehow still available and bring a lot of leadership to the team. Mahmoud Qasim has only gotten better and provides a solid 1b, while Abdul Butt has become Mr. Clutch in the playoffs. Finally, after drafting a great team, Jav decided to trade out Saad Ibrahim for Bilal Malik, as Bilal will provide depth in the OF.
With a well rounded out team, the Cobras have a lot of depth and players that can play multiple positions. Anything less than a finals appearance will be a failure as this team is built to win, and to win now. The league better watch out, as the Cobras look to reign supreme once again.
Damascus, a team that has been a contender since inception, is being led by new GM, Ali Chaudhry.
Ali knew had big shoes to fill so he started the season with the great draft. He drafted BSL veteran Imran Merchant who is versatile player who can play Centerfield and Shortstop.
However, what made his draft great were several steal picks during the draft.
He was able to pick up Omer Khattab with the last pick. in the 3rd round. To be able to pick a player who can clear 300ft fields easily in the third round can be a game changer. Furthermore, Omer Khatab is coming off an injury plague year and should be eager to show why he should be a First round candidate.
In addition, Ali was able to sweep up players such as Tanseer Khawaja, Imran Qureshi, Amir Khalil who all fell more than they should have. Ali was also able to draft rookie
Hasif Hakim, who also packs a punch on the offence.
Lastly, Ali was able to pick up another pitch in Zia Beg to mix things up on the mount.
Damascus is a team that has no visible holes in the defence and intimidating power on the offence. On paper they seem like a contenders, however, can Damascus leadership translate this into a win? Let's find out on Thursday!
Last year, Istanbul enjoyed its most successful year in its club history. The club managed to finish its highest position in the league table as well as qualify for playoffs losing to eventual winners of the competition. In terms of individual player performance last year – Istanbul finally had power representation on the Home Run board with Ismail Kara finishing 2nd in the Home run title race. Istanbul will look to build on that success by wiping the slate mostly clean with only Baseer Yaseen being retained from last years overachieving squad. With a higher standard now set at the club, Istanbul will aim to achieve at least a semi final playoff appearance and look to build on last years success after years of withering at the bottom half the table.
Lets Dive into 6 things to keep an eye on from the 2022 Istanbul Squad.
1. Who’s playing the Infield?
Not a single player drafted by Istanbul registered themselves as a SS or 3B as their primary playing position. Istanbul is looking at this as a positive with auditions for key infield roles being open to whoever can “win the job”. The management is hoping this motivates players to play beyond their previous fielding capacities and enjoy a breakout season defensively. This is their shot to finally play those premium roles.
2. Solid Outfield Presence
The Outfield seems set with newcomer Murtaza Mirza projected to be the heart of Centre Field. Murtaza - the wildcard in the draft is rumored to be a freak athlete and capable of being an elite presence in a crucial position. Omer Ch will also be counted on to play his usual OF role and ensure the team remains sharp in terms of baseball IQ. Azar Zafar who is constantly going for jogs and runs will have no problem covering the 300ft field. Gm Taqi Ahmed may be shuffled around and used in multiple infield roles but the long term role is to stick to OF. Lastly, Baseer Yaseen returns and will continue where he left off from last season and assist with his solid IQ and glove.
3. Murtaza Mirza Breakout or Bust
If the rumors are to be believed – Murtaza Mirza will be an elite CF player that should have gone in the 2nd round. The biggest question mark will be if his hitting ability can be up to the standard of being drafted in the 3rd round. If Murtaza is legit with both bat and glove – then Istanbul have a great foundation to go for a deep run this season. If hes a bust – then Istanbul will find themselves always on the back foot in every game.
4. The Return of Miqdaddy
Only 5 players in BSL Nights history have a career batting average of .700 (minimum 20 GP to qualify). Only 1 of them is also an elite pitcher. Istanbul will welcome back fan favourite Miqdad Jaffer as a permanent member of the team. Last season Miqdad played as a super sub for Istanbul and the team was undefeated with him in the squad. Istanbul now look forward to having arguably the best pitcher in the league take the mound as well as one of the most consistent hitters in league history.
5. Round 5 to 8 Upside
During the draft – Istanbul focused on drafting guys that have the potential to take the next step in their development whether with the bat or glove. Shoaib Rangrez was taken 5th round with the hope that he can use his athleticism to propel himself as a top end SS. Rangrez batting is no worry as he showed last season in his debut that hes capable of being a reliable Table Setter. Baseer Yaseen was taken 6th round for his consistent batting and the hopes that he can finally fix his defensive issues – if he can take that step then he is a complete steal in the 6th round. The 7th round saw Istanbul land someone that should have gone earlier. Zahid Panchbhaya took strides with his pitching last season – going from new to pitching to a reliable gem hurler. Just like his Malton Hood Rat teammate – Zahid showed great ability to get on base and used his solid speed to round bases. His versatility when it comes to being a pitcher and infielder allows Istanbul to tinker strategies. Istanbul will hope the Guajarati chemistry on the field will naturally flourish into a top end infield duo. Istanbul are happy to nab Sameer Chawla in the 8th and hope he can maintain his batting performance from last season. With the guidance of Omer Ch in the squad, Sameer can potentially have a power surge once his technique is improved. Istanbul will hope he can rack up on ribbies at the top half of the batting order.
6. Its gonna be fun
Aftab Khan was recommended by Omer ch because of his willingness to learn and commit himself to be a better player. Umair Ashraf was chosen by Taqi after having a fantastic experience with him playing Brotherhood Soccer and knowing he is a very determined individual. The squad is full of great personality so regardless of what happens – its going to be a great experience with great brothers.
7. The Best Chaudhry
Istanbul is a big believer in Omer Ch and his talents as a franchise player. His numbers speak for themselves and he is the perfect piece to this team due to his coaching skills – which he will utilise to hit the upside of players drafted after the 3rd round. Istanbul is so confident in him that they were willing to take him with the 2nd overall pick – but decided to trade down and get him 5th overall instead. He will show time and time again that he should always have gone higher.
Coming off the inaugural season of the franchise and GM Salman Ahmad’s first as a GM, Jerusalem was looking to build on the culture they had instilled last year. Finishing as a top 3 team last year, Jerusalem folded in the playoffs facing Damascus who was on a tear heading into the playoffs. Salman knew he needed to turn things around this year to avoid another meltdown and come up with a strategy that will lead him back to the coveted championship.
The main thing Salman wanted was to keep that culture he has built and go out and fill the clubhouse with guys with great personalities. He also was aware of the bigger fields this year (especially for the playoffs) and draft his team to be young, fast and skilled defensively. With this in mind, he wasted no time drafting BSL stalwart Umair Jabbar with the 3rd overall pick. Umair brings a lot of experience (and recent championship experience too), power, speed and defensive skill to Jerusalem. Don’t forget his ray of sunshine attitude that is so lauded everywhere he goes.
He was quick to pick up Zain Khilji who will hold down the fort in the infield, playing shortstop, for Jerusalem and this began to shape the defensive identity for them. There were rumblings through the vines that these first 2 picks of Jerusalem were the same first 2 picks that the Egyptians were hoping to get.
Speed, speed, speed. With 2 of the quicker guys already selected, Salman went out and got one of the fastest guys on the draft board and reigning gold glove LF Taha Durrani. Taha was exceptional for Medina last year and this definitely caught Salman’s eye.
What’s better than one Jabbar? Two of them! Salman picked up Umair’s older brother, Umer Jabbar to solidify 3B and getting such a premier glove in the 4th round, in a position where there aren’t a lot of options, Salman did well for Jerusalem. Also, don’t forget his big bat, rumour has it that he has already crushed a 300ft monster at Brickyard.
With the next 3 picks, Jerusalem rounded out the outfield and solidified his infield further while also getting solid vets to maintain the culture in the dugout. Asad Ahmed and Abdul “Sunny” Murad will bolster what is already looking like a quick, dangerous outfield and Rameez Siddiqi will be the calming presence to get those lasers from Zain and Umer at 1B.
Salman used his last 3 picks and a trade to round out the roster and get guys you can plug anywhere to bring production. Jerusalem is banking on Erfan “EBP” Bhanapatel to start off strong like he did last year and continue it throughout the season. Fawad A. Shaikh did some damage in the championship game last year and Jerusalem will count on his playoff performance again this year. Salman had drafted Bilal Malik, but quickly post draft had traded him for another solid hitter in Saad Ibrahim.
Jerusalem looks like a force to be reckon with. Defensively there really aren’t any holes and on the offensive side they have a mix of power and solid line drive hitters. Could this be the year that GM Salman leads his team to a championship? Only time will tell, play ball!
Lahore is back for another season with GM Aftab Sheikh taking the helm once again. Aftab has definitely changed his draft strategy but focusing on more power (Lahore had the least number of runs scored in 2021) by adding Bilal Javed (who will also be the pitcher), Tash Samadzadeh and Ismail Kara.
Lahore deployed a unique draft strategy by trading down its first pick for 7th (Bilal), thereby retrieving a higher 2nd round pick (Ismail), then trading up in the 7th round (Ali Nazir) and a lower 9th round pick (Atif Pervaiz) - will this strategy work? Only time will tell….
Bilal, Tash and Ismail (we will just call them Bash Brothers from now on) will definitely add offensive power to the line-up as well as veteran leadership with Bilal and Tash winning titles in recent history.
Lahore rounded out their power by adding dependable players both on and off the field with the likes of Hatf Sohail, Saad Husnain and Ali Nazir. These character player will add the much needed on base percentage opportunities that was lacking for Lahore in years past.
Lahore is looking for a deep playoff run this year and used several picks to add BSL veterans have who proven themselves in the playoffs including Abdo Menla, Atif Pervaiz and Khawar Anwar. Based on their character shown in years past they these players will be in the running for this years Brotherhood Award.
Last but certainly not least, Lahore welcomes back Mohammed Al-Sukhni who played with the team for a couple of years. Lahore will welcome Mohammed’s improved outfield performance.
It can be argued that Lahore has put together their strongest group of players who are have singular focus on winning a championship (rumors have it that Lahore has held 1 practice and another one is in the works…)
When asked to comment on his team's prospect's 5 time GM of Medina, Moh Kala refused to provide any notworthy commentary. In true Kala fashion, Moh said wait until the end of the season. Well, what will happen at the end, Moh?
GM Kala is looking to redeem some of the magic that made gave him the championship in Year 1 of Nights. He traded up 6 spots, and swapped a couple of rounds in order to get the #1 pick. After that, he drafted solid speedsters and strategist in Zahid and Yousaf. Then in the middle rounds opted for speed by drafting the likes of Sani, Kazi and TikTok superstar Emad Ahmed. Kala surprised his fellow GMs by selecting a Khawaja known as Faisal. Yes, it's the return of Faisal Khawaja, a BSL folklore that only those playing > 5 years know about. To round out his draft, Kala took Fuzail 'Fuzzy' Clemons, Furqan and another Kala named Waseem - yes, they're family but no nepotism here as Waseem is poised to have a great season.
Sources claim that Medina will be missing more players this season than any other team due to injuries, personal obligations and family commiments. The overall concern is whether the team will be able to field all its players and if so, when?
On paper the team looks as dangerous as any of its peers - time will tell whether the team will gel in order to take a deep run in the playoffs.
For GM Kala it's either championship or bust. Will year 5 resemble the same outcome as Year 1? We are still waiting for Kala to provide comments.