Pakistan batsman Shan Masood now has the best average in 50-over history

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Shan Masood averages 137 in one-dayers this season.

Pakistan batsman Shan Masood has capped an incredible year for batsmen in his country’s domestic One Day Cup by attaining the highest average ever recorded in 50-over history.

This year has seen some incredible numbers come out of Pakistan’s One Day Cup. Three days after Islamabad batsman Abid Ali recorded the highest score in Pakistan’s 50-over history during his unbeaten knock of 209 against Peshawar, Test batsman Shan Masood hit an unbeaten 182 while batting for Islamabad against Rawalpindi.

That innings helped his team reach 380-2 but it was a far from a comfortable win as Rawalpindi made 367-9 from their allotted quota of overs in the semi-final clash.

Masood’s effort that helped Islamabad qualify for the final was special for another reason. The left-handed batsman now averages 58.2 in 50-over cricket – the highest in List A games in history, overtaking the great Michael Bevan’s tally of 15,103 runs from 427 matches at an average of 57.86.

Masood has admittedly played fewer matches – 71 – but his run this season has been stupendous nonetheless.

The left-handed opening batsman has also become only the second batsman in history to score more than 1,000 runs in a 50-over season at an average of more than 100. Masood’s returns this season are 1,237 runs at an average of 137.44, with Bevan the only other batsman to achieve similar numbers – 1,201 runs at an average of 109.18 in 2000.

What had boosted Masood’s average this season is three unbeaten centuries – 182, 128 and 100 – in his last 10 matches.

While Masood’s returns are impressive, it must be noted that this season of 50-over cricket in Pakistan has been particularly productive for batsmen. Earlier last month, wicketkeeper batsman Kamran Akmal became only the third Pakistan batsman to hit a double century in List A matches.

Many in Pakistan believe the reason for such prolific run-scoring is vastly different conditions compared to first-class matches.

In the Quaid-e-Azam first-class tournament, green top wickets and Duke balls meant fast bowlers ruled the roost as the average first innings score was 235 – the lowest in the world – and only one batsman scored more than 500 runs at an average of above 50.

But the scenario has changed in one-day cricket with Kookaburra balls and flatter wickets resulting in 13 scores in excess of 300.

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Shoaib Akhtar says Lahore Qalandars pacer Salman Irshad can break 100 miles per hour barrier

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Irshad bowling for Hawkesbury Club in Australia.

Pakistan has a proud tradition of producing world-class fast bowlers and another name looks set to join that list.

Former Pakistan quick Shoaib Akhtar has earmarked PSL team Lahore Qalandars’ Salman Irshad as the bowler who can breach the 100 miles per hour mark.

Akhtar is one of only four bowlers – apart from Aussie quicks Jeff Thomson, Brett Lee and Shaun Tait – who have bowled at 100mph (161kph) at international level. The retired pacer said he will monitor Irshad’s progress himself after Akhtar was named mentor for the Qalandars in the third edition of the PSL.

“He is bowling at 92 miles an hour now. He can go up to 97. And if he puts his heart in, can break the 100 miles per hour barrier. I want to train Salman Irshad myself,” Akhtar said during an interview on Pakistan’s GEO News.

Irshad was spotted during a talent hunt conducted by the Qalandars last year in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Former Pakistan fast bowler and Qalandars director cricket operations Aaqib Javed was immediately impressed by what he saw and said Irshad had the potential to represent Pakistan at the highest level.

“I have set a target for him to increase his speed to 150kph. The angle he creates will help him bowl well in the death overs,” Javed was quoted as saying by Pakpassion.net.

With such high praise coming from two of the finest fast bowlers produced by Pakistan, all eyes will surely be on him when the PSL starts in the UAE on February 22.

Irshad was part of Lahore Qalandars’ Rising Stars squad that traveled to Australia for a quadrangular tournament. There he impressed the locals and was signed up by Hawkesbury CC for the rest of the season. Irshad picked up 22 wickets at an average of 12.95 in his first five second division games for Hawkesbury.

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Islamabad batsman Abid Ali hits highest 50-over score in Pakistan's history

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Abid Ali hit an unbeaten 209. (courtesy @TheRealPCB/twitter)

Pakistan is known more for its menacing pace bowlers than heavy-scoring batsmen. But that seems to have changed this year, at least in limited overs cricket in the domestic circuit, with Islamabad batsman Abid Ali making the highest List A score by a Pakistan batsman in history.

Ali hit an unbeaten 209 against Peshawar in the ongoing National One Day Cup on Tuesday. He hit 24 boundaries and five sixes during his 156-ball knock.

The 30-year-old Ali is a right-handed wicketkeeper batsman and has been playing domestic cricket since 2005. However, he had scored just one one-day century prior to the double ton on Tuesday.

Ali’s knock helped Islamabad make 374-1 from their 50 overs. That target proved too steep for Peshawar who were bowled out for 141 in 38 overs.

Ali became only the fourth Pakistan batsman to hit a double century in the one-day format. Interestingly, it was the second List A century of 2018 in Pakistan after wicketkeeper batsman Kamran Akmal hit exactly 200 for WAPDA against HBL on January 3.

The previous highest scores in Pakistan List A games were 207 by Mohammad Ali for Customs against DHA in 2005 and an unbeaten 204 by Khalid Latif for Karachi against Quetta in 2009.

It has been an intriguing turnaround in Pakistan’s domestic scene. In 2017, batsmen struggled during the Quaid-e-Azam first-class tournament, with the average first innings score of 235 easily the lowest in the world and only one batsman scoring more than 500 runs at an average of above 50.

However, 2018 has started off on a good note for batsmen, at least in limited-overs cricket.

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