After a disappointing inaugural season, Team Istanbul is ready to bounce back in season 2 of BSL Nights. Istanbul is still led by GM Zain “One Direction” Malik but, unlike last season, the direction seems to be pointing North this time around. Zain is joined by his versatile utility man, and AGM, Riyad Ramjaun who will be plugging in any holes that the team will require.
This year, Istanbul management took a completely different draft strategy than their inaugural season, making it a point to not reach for any friends or family in the earlier rounds. They made the expected choice with the first round pick and drafted Abdullah Akhter. Abdullah had a stellar first season and should hold the fort in the outfield. Zain Malik decided to not bring back his brother Hamid Malik instead opting in for some power bats. Istanbul also managed to throw in a curve ball by drafting Fuzail as their pitcher. Fuzail had a great first season as a pitcher. Let see if he can keep up the consistency with changes to pitching rule. Istanbul then followed that by drafting some power bats and bringing back familiar names in the later rounds. Interesting to note, Istanbul drafted the least number of rookies in comparison to other teams, so there should be no surprises for opponents when facing Istanbul.
In terms of strengths and weaknesses, Istanbul offense looks promising while their defense looks a little suspect. Istanbul has a strong batting lineup. Their main power bats Tamour Sheikh, Rameez Siddiqi each of whom can clear the fence by a mile are complimented nicely by solid line drive hitters like Abdullah and Zain. This team should be able to put up runs on the board easily; however, fielding poses to be a severe threat to Istanbul's post season championship hopes. Abdullah their only bonafide outfielder and team lacks substantially in speed. Zain Mailk, also known as “Jahli Jibs”, can make regulation plays at ss but accompanied by Tamour Sheikh and Umer Jabbar , the lateral movement in the infield is going to be very limited.
Istanbul team is experienced and poised for a good season. The X-factor for this team will be Umer Jabbar. He has been both playing with his family and shouldering the responsibilities of being a GM for past several years. He has shown great power and consistency in dome ball this winter and he could due for a big season.