The Pakistan Super League is a unique cricket product. The tournament is split across the UAE and Pakistan and is at the forefront of the latter’s attempt to bring meaningful international cricket back in the country.
On the cricket field, another aspect separates PSL from other premier T20 leagues in the world. And that’s team scores, or more specifically low totals.
T20 cricket is synonymous with big hitting, massive sixes and whirlwind knocks where bowlers pretty much wander around as glorified bowling machines.
In last year’s Indian Premier League, by far the most prominent T20 league in the world, teams reached or crossed 180 on 32 occasions out of 60 matches. In the Big Bash League this season, the total of 180 was reached or crossed 17 times in 43 matches.
The T20 blast in England had a staggering 26 scores of 200 or more this season. The Bangladesh Premier League had 14 instances of team totals crossing 180. The Caribbean Premier League is the only other exception, with four totals more than 180 in 2017.
In two seasons and a bit in the PSL, 180 has been crossed 10 times. That’s 10 times in more than 60 matches across three seasons. IPL and BBL cross this mark halfway through a single season.
There are two distinct reasons for such numbers. Firstly, the wickets in this time of the year in the UAE are not the flattest to bat on. Intermittent rain and sluggish surfaces in Sharjah and sometimes in Dubai during the beginning of the year result in bowlers, be it fast bowlers or spinners, having a greater say in proceedings than bowlers in, say, Bangalore or Brisbane.
Also, Pakistan’s core strength remains bowling – pace bowling in particular – and that means most teams have a greater pool of homegrown quality bowlers than hard-hitting all-rounders or attacking openers.
This season in the PSL, no team has reached 180 so far. The match between Islamabad United and Lahore Qalandars in Sharjah on Friday is a case in point, with Islamabad beating Lahore in a Super Over after stopping the Qalandars from overhauling their total of 121.
When you look at major T20 leagues across the world, the six-hitting spectacle becomes a bit stale after one point. Fifties and even some centuries, in the case of IPL, are forgotten as there are just so many of them. But every batsman who crosses 50 in the PSL knows he has earned every bit of it on tricky wickets against world class bowling.
Just ask Kiwi batting stalwart Brendon McCullum. ‘Baz’ averaged 13.2 in the PSL last season and dragged his season average to 27 this year after a hard-fought 34 in the Super Over match against Islamabad.
And that is what sets PSL apart from the rest of the pack. In a world intent on devouring every last bit of confidence in bowlers by sending them to the abattoir of Twenty20, PSL is a safe haven for those who make their living hurling a cricket ball.
The West Indies all-rounder had come into the tournament with huge expectations riding on his back following his stellar performances in various T20 leagues around the world.
He was supposed to play four matches for the Quetta franchise in the tournament being held in the UAE but has now returned home after playing in only two.
The Gladiators posted a video message on Twitter where the 22-year-old waved his goodbyes to the franchise.
— Quetta Gladiators (@TeamQuetta) March 2, 2018
“Speed sensation Jofra Archer waves goodbye. Sad he could only play two out of four matches due to side strain. See you soon JOF,” the post read.
Quetta Gladiators have called up Australian pacer Ben Laughlin as a replacement for the injured Archer.
West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell smashed the last ball of the Super Over for a six as Islamabad United pulled off a thrilling win over Lahore Qalandars in the Pakistan Super League in Sharjah on Friday.
It was the first Super Over in PSL history after Islamabad managed 121-9 in their first innings and then bowled out Lahore for 121. In the Super Over, Lahore captain Brendon McCullum hit the first ball off Mohammad Sami for a six and then got out, before Umar Akmal hit another six taking the equation to 16 for victory.
In reply, Islamabad all-rounder Russell hit the last two balls off Mustafizur Rahman for a four and a six to seal a famous win and hand Lahore their fourth straight defeat of PSL 2018.
Earlier, JP Duminy hit a slow 34 off 36 balls while Hussain Talat remained unbeaten on 33 as Islamabad struggled to 121-9 on a rain-affected day in Sharjah that had forced the Multan Sultans-Karachi Kings match to be abandoned. Leg-spinner Yasir Shah took 3-20 for Lahore while debutant pacer Salman Irshad took a wicket off his first ball in PSL – getting captain Misbah-ul-Haq caught behind.
In reply, Agha Salman top scored for Lahore with 48 off 35 balls but captain McCullum consumed 49 balls for his 34 as a manageable target became an imposing one. No other Qalandars batsman reached double digits. Left-arm spinner Samit Patel took 3-17 for Islamabad while pacer Moahammad Sami took 3-21.