The Pakistan Super League is the perfect platform for young Pakistan players to showcase their talent and get on the radar of national selectors. This year’s edition has seen some exciting talent from the country test their mettle against the best in the world.
With the PSL reaching the business end of the tournament, we look at the top five young Pakistan cricketers who have impressed in the third edition of the tournament.
SHAHEEN AFRIDI (LAHORE QALANDARS)
The 17-year-old had to bide his time after going wicketless in three matches. However, he ended the wickets drought in style with astonishing figures of 5-4 against Multan Sultans. It even earned the praise of Pakistan star Shahid Afridi. With offers from the Big Bash League, expect to see plenty more of him.
HUSSAIN TALAT (ISLAMABAD UNITED)
Before a ball was even bowled, the 22-year-old made it clear his main aim is to represent Pakistan. Judging by his performances in the last month or so, he will be on Mickey Arthur’s radar. Batting down the order, he has often come in when quick runs were needed and played vital cameo roles including the 48 not out in Islamabad’s first win.
MOHAMMAD IRFAN (KARACHI KINGS)
In a squad that has established pacers Mohammad Amir and Tymal Mills, Irfan held his own with a series of fine displays with the ball. The 22-year-old caused problems with his awkward bowling action and bounce. With more performances like this, an international debut can’t be a long way away.
HASAN KHAN (QUETTA GLADIATORS)
The Under-19 captain had never played a T20 match before PSL 2017 but has since come a long way. The 19-year-old orthodox spinner has been consistent with the ball, containing the batsmen. Also showed he can be handy with the bat, hitting the match-winning six off the penultimate ball against Multan.
IBTISAM SHEIKH (PESHAWAR ZALMI)
Just played a handful of games but his contributions have already got people talking of his potential. The 20-year-old leg-spinner didn’t even make the draft. But after being spotted by head coach Mohammad Akram during a first-class match Sheikh hasn’t looked back. Took 3-20 in his second game and followed it up with another two-for against Karachi Kings.
International players from various teams set off to Lahore to take part in the Pakistan leg of the PSL.
Peshawar Zalmi captain Darren Sammy leads a near full-strength squad in the Eliminator against Quetta Gladiators, which will be played in Lahore on Tuesday.
Karachi Kings batsman Ravi Bopara also posted a picture on social media as he travelled to Pakistan from Dubai on Monday.
However, Aussie all-rounder Shane Watson backed out at the last minute citing pressure from his family. Also, Karachi Kings batsman Lendl Simmons finally agreed to travel to Pakistan after initially refusing to do so.
A number of players like Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan have decided not to travel to Pakistan for the final few matches of the PSL.
Quetta Gladiators coach Moin Khan had earlier said foreign players who refuse to travel to Pakistan should not be selected in the first place.
“I blame the Pakistan Cricket Board for this situation,” Moin had said. “I know the board will not like my comments. However, in future, only those overseas players should be included in the player draft who commit to also play in Pakistan, if required by their franchises.”
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.