PSL 2019: Umar Akmal's resurgence and other major surprises from week one

Waseem Ahmed 12:42 19/02/2019
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Umar Akmal in action. Image credit - @thePSLt20/Twitter.

It has been an action-packed first week in the 2019 Pakistan Super League (PSL) to say the least.

After seven entertaining matches spread across four days, the league moves from Dubai to Sharjah ahead of an intriguing week two.

There has been no shortage of entertainment in the past seven games with plenty of them going right down to the wire. Many old experienced heads have turned on the style while a few newcomers have taken the league by storm.

Here, we take a look at some of the major surprises from week one.

Liam Livingstone dazzles on PSL debut

While Liam Livingstone’s exploits might be a name all too familiar to Lancashire supporters, the Englishman was hardly a known quantity at the international level before he was picked up by Karachi Kings in the PSL player draft last year.

It didn’t take too long for PSL fans to understand why Livingstone is so highly in demand in T20 leagues around the world these days with the opening batsman smashing 82 off just 43 balls on his Karachi debut.

The right-hander forged a record 157-run stand along with Babar Azam against Multan Sultans and managed to overshadow his opening partner with some sensational hitting that fetched him six sixes and as many boundaries.

No wonder then that the Rajasthan Royals have shelled out the big bucks to land the England batsman for the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League.

Umar Akmal turns back the clock

Once heralded as one of the most promising batsmen to emerge from Pakistan, Akmal had ultimately ended up as a cautionary tale for ‘talent gone to waste’ with the multiple controversies that have followed him since his international debut.

No longer a part of the Pakistan set-up, Akmal was in danger of fading into obscurity despite being at an age where most batsmen usually hit their prime.  His last PSL season with Lahore Qalandars had been a disastrous one with the talented batsman scoring only 57 runs in his five appearances.

It appears Lahore’s loss is Quetta Gladiators’ gain with the right-hander putting up two excellent performances in his two outings so far. His unbeaten 50-ball 75 helped Quetta chase down a stiff total against Peshawar Zalmi and he followed that up with a fluent 44 in the win over Islamabad United.

Such have been his displays that skipper Sarfraz Ahmed has already starting talking up a potential Pakistan return for the batsman.

Umer Khan makes the most of Abrar Ahmed’s fitness woes

While several young Pakistan talents have made their marks in the first week, Umer Khan of Karachi Kings has perhaps been the most dramatic story. The 19-year-old left-arm orthodox spinner has gone for less than six runs an over in his two appearances and picked up three crucial wickets including that of Lahore ace AB de Villiers.

Umer wasn’t a part of the 20-man initial Karachi squad for the tournament and was only picked later from the franchise’s scouting and development programme where he was spotted by Rashid Latif.

Still, the youngster was firmly behind another young spinner in the form Abrar Ahmed when it came to the Karachi pecking order. It was only an injury to Ahmed that has provided Umer with his two opportunities and the youngster has grabbed it with both hands.

It will be interesting to see if the Rawalpindi-born teenager can keep up these displays as the tournament progresses.

Another fine display by Umer. Image - @thePSLt20/Twitter.

Another fine display by Umer. Image – @thePSLt20/Twitter.

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