The Pakistan Super League is ultimately a platform for Pakistani players to prove their mettle against the best in the business, fine-tune their game for greater challenges or stake their claim for a spot in the senior national set-up.
This season, the run-scoring and wicket-taking charts have a good sprinkling of Pakistani cricketers.
Here we look at the top performing local players in the third edition of the Pakistan Super League.
KAMRAN AKMAL (PESHAWAR ZALMI)
100s: 1; 50s: 3
The wicket-keeper batsman started the year with a List A double century and has now piled on 347 runs at an average of 43 in PSL. He has done it on difficult wickets against top class bowlers that has forced selectors to consider his name for national duty. Difficult to ignore Kamran’s numbers in limited overs matches.
BABAR AZAM (KARACHI KINGS)
The 23-year-old Azam showed that good technique and right temperament are enough to deliver in any format and condition. A strike rate of 120 isn’t spectacular but since conditions in the UAE aren’t exactly a batsman’s paradise, those are fine numbers. A talent Pakistan can bank on for years to come.
FAKHAR ZAMAN (LAHORE QALANDARS)
Enjoy Fakhar Zaman's blistering inning of 94 off just 50 balls (9 Fours, 6 Sixes).— Saad IU/LQ 🇵🇰 (@SaadAwais22) March 14, 2018
- This is Highest individual score of this season.
- 3rd highest overall in PSL History.#LQvQG #QGvLQ pic.twitter.com/rlRZ6PyYvm
The left-handed batsman continues to prove his worth in white ball cricket. The 27-year-old has just one fifty to his name but his strike rate is 147. That’s nearly 30 runs per innings at a strike rate of almost 150. In a disappointing campaign for Lahore, one bright spot in the batting department.
FAHEEM ASHRAF (ISLAMABAD UNITED)
The all-rounder has been excellent with the ball, picking up wickets and even bowling a maiden. Ashraf hasn’t scored many runs but his bowling continues to grow. Can do the job once pioneered by the likes of Abdul Razzaq and Azhar Mahmood though there is still a long way to go.
USMAN KHAN (KARACHI KINGS)
Took some tap in the Qualifier against Islamabad but that should take nothing away from a fine tournament. Returning from a back injury, Usman has bowled with aggression and should walk back into Pakistan’s limited overs team. Another talented left-arm fast bowler from Pakistan.
SHAHID AFRIDI (KARACHI KINGS)
- the MRI scan of Shahid Afridi detects swelling around the knee-joint & sprain of one of the ligaments. Afridi is likely to play with painkillers!— Asif Khan (@mak_asif) March 17, 2018
‘Lala’ has retired but is still one of the best slow bowlers in T20 cricket. To maintain an economy of six and pick up wickets takes some doing in the shortest format. Has been hindered by a knee injury that has affected his campaign but even a half-fit Afridi can be more than enough.
Islamabad United sailed into the final of the third edition of the Pakistan Super League after a crushing eight-wicket win over Karachi Kings in the first Qualifier in Dubai on Sunday.
Opener Luke Ronchi hit an unbeaten 94 off just 39 deliveries as Islamabad chased down a tricky target of 155 in just 12.3 overs – the biggest win in PSL in terms of balls remaining.
Islamabad move straight to the final in Karachi next Sunday. The Kings have another opportunity to make it to the final as they face the winner of the Eliminator between Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators in Lahore.
Here we take a look at the talking points from Islamabad’s win on Sunday.
SAMI STRIKES EARLY
Islamabad’s 37-year-old fast bowler Mohammad Sami has been in top form this PSL. Bowling with pace and intent, he rattled Karachi by taking the scalps of Khurram Manzoor (6) and Babar Azam (0). His four overs went for just 20 runs and was easily the best fast bowler on display.
INGRAM USES THE LONG HANDLE
South African Colin Ingram batsman is known for his destructive power lower down the order. With Karachi struggling at 46-3 after 8.1 overs, Ingram took it upon himself to up the scoring rate. He hit six sixes and a solitary boundary in his 39-ball 68, adding 82 with Joe Denly (51). That gave Karachi bowlers something to bowl at.
RONCHI MAKES A MOCKERY OF THE TARGET
Karachi have two of the finest new ball bowlers in Mohammad Amir and Usman Khan. But tell that to opener Ronchi. He smashed every Karachi bowler to bits, hitting five sixes and 12 boundaries. He missed out on a well-deserved century after running out of runs to get.
Umar has had a forgettable campaign in the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL) for McCullum’s side, scoring only 57 runs in five innings before being dropped from the line-up.
On Friday, Kamran Akmal scored the first century of the 2018 edition of the PSL to power Peshawar Zalmi to a seven-wicket over the Lahore Qalandars.
The senior Akmal made 107 off just 61 deliveries and McCullum has advised Umar to follow his brother’s blueprint.
— PakistanSuperLeague (@thePSLt20) March 16, 2018
“Based on his point of view, he has a lot of years in front of him, he can finish his career really strong. Today, he got a great blueprint of what he should do from his brother and I am sure he sat back and thought he could be in a situation like this in the future. But he has to make sure that he is performing to get those opportunities,” the former New Zealand skipper said.
27-year-old Umar was at one point poised to have a bright future with the Pakistan national team when he made his debut in 2009. However, inconsistent performances and a lack of application has seen the right-handed batsman fall out of favour.
His last outing in Pakistan colours came in January last year in an ODI against Australia where he had registered a 40-ball 46.