There was some high-octane T20 cricket on show in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) with the 2019 edition coming to a successful end on Sunday.
At the end of an enthralling PSL 2019, we have made our picks for the team of the tournament.
SHANE WATSON – QUETTA GLADIATORS
The Australian veteran showed no signs of stopping anytime soon with a terrific campaign for champions Quetta. The opening batsman finished as the highest run-scorer of the tournament by some distance with 430 runs in 12 innings at an average of exactly 43.
The 37-year-old registered four half-centuries in the campaign and even came out from his bowling sabbatical by defending 21 runs in the final over during the Qualifier against Peshawar Zalmi.
AHMED SHEHZAD – QUETTA GLADIATORS
Opening alongside Watson in our XI is his Quetta team-mate Ahmed Shehzad who was excellent in the latter stages of the tournament including the final. The right-hander was poor in the early half of Quetta’s campaign but quickly rediscovered his best as the tournament progressed.
Shehzad struck as many as four fifties in his five most recent appearances for Quetta and registered a total of 311 runs in eight innings at an average of nearly 52.
His extraordinary consistency in the business end of the tournament is the reason Shehzad pips Kamran Akmal who finished as the second highest run-getter in the tournament while effecting the second most amount of dismissals as a wicketkeeper.
COLIN INGRAM – KARACHI KINGS
Although Karachi were knocked out in the first Eliminator, Colin Ingram managed to create quite the impression with his displays. The South African batsman did not have the best of times in the early stages of the competition but quickly grew in confidence with each passing game.
He smashed the first ton of the 2019 edition with a 59-ball 127 against Quetta at Sharjah with his 344 runs overall coming at an average of over 34 and a staggering strike-rate of 164.59.
AB DE VILLIERS – LAHORE QALANDARS
He might have only played seven matches in his maiden PSL campaign but AB de Villiers made sure it was a memorable one despite his team’s bottom-place finish.
The South African ace too started the competition slowly but exploded into life with a sparkling match-winning half-century against Multan Sultans. The right-hander’s 218 runs in the competition came at an impressive average of 54.50 with his extra-ordinary 360 degree shot-making leaving fans in awe.
SARFRAZ AHMED (C & WK) – QUETTA GLADIATORS
The Quetta skipper is our designated captain and wicketkeeper for his excellent leadership throughout the side’s title-winning campaign.
The Pakistan stalwart orchestrated things nicely on the field with his astute captaincy while also scoring a match-winning 52 against Lahore Qalandars. On merit, Kamran Akmal would get the wicketkeeper’s slot in the XI but Sarfaz’s leadership abilities sees him edge it.
ASIF ALI – ISLAMABAD UNITED
There is only one contender for the number six slot in the batting line up with Asif Ali putting in a terrific showing for Islamabad United. The Pakistan batsman flourished in the death overs for Islamabad with his explosive hitting and was involved in several quick-fire cameos.
The right-hander’s 281 runs came at an average greater than 35 and an astonishing strike-rate of 182.46. No batsman struck as many sixes as Asif (26) over the course of the tournament.
FAHEEM ASHRAF – ISLAMABAD UNITED
In the all-rounder’s role it is Asif’s Islamabad team-mate Faheem Ashraf who gets the nod. The 25-year-old was sensational with the ball in hand for the defending champions while playing a few handy cameos with the bat down the order.
Faheem’s 21 dismissals in the 2019 edition is only behind Peshawar’s Hasan Ali (25) with the Islamabad all-rounder also recording the second-best bowling figures (6-19) in PSL history.
HASAN ALI – PESHAWAR ZALMI
The Peshawar man was the standout bowler of the competition and finished as the Maroon Cap (for most wickets) holder with 25 scalps to his name.
Hasan was the driving force behind Peshawar’s run to the final with his 25 wickets coming at a stunning economy-rate of just 6.77. It was the PSL through which the pacer initially announced himself to the world and his latest displays have only further raised his stock.
WAHAB RIAZ – PESHAWAR ZALMI
Hasan Ali at Peshawar was perfectly complemented by his senior pace counterpart Wahab Riaz. The former Pakistan international finished as the third-highest wicket-taker in the competition with 17 scalps while also becoming the first bowler in PSL history to breach the 50-wicket barrier.
Wahab had finished as the highest wicket-taker in the 2018 edition and he has once again shown his importance to Peshawar with another consistent season.
MOHAMMAD HASNAIN – QUETTA GLADIATORS
The PSL has always been a breeding ground for future Pakistan talent and the 2019 edition has been no different with Mohammad Hasnain among the youngsters to catch the eye.
The 18-year-old has turned heads by clocking speeds of over 150kph with his impressive displays earning him a maiden call up to the Pakistan ODI squad. The Quetta youngster picked up 12 wickets from his seven appearances including man-of-the-match figures of 3-30 in the final.
UMER KHAN – KARACHI KINGS
The other youngster apart from Hasnain to make a name for himself is Karachi’s Umer Khan. The 19-year-old finished as the highest wicket-taker among spinners and fourth highest overall with 15 scalps in his 11 appearances.
The left-armed orthodox spinner dismissed some illustrious batsmen over the course of the campaign including AB de Villiers, Shoaib Malik and Shane Watson (twice). While Hasnain has been called up to the Pakistan squad, Umer should have his debut soon based on what he has shown in his maiden PSL campaign.
The 2019 edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) has come to a successful end with Quetta Gladiators clinching their maiden crown in front of a packed house at the National Stadium in Karachi on Sunday.
The triumph on Sunday though, was not just for Quetta but also for Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Islamabad and Multan. It was a collective triumph for Pakistan cricket as a whole with the passionate fans in the country being treated to the kind of spectacle they have been largely deprived of over the course of the last decade.
It has been exactly 10 years since the horrific terrorist attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus took place at Lahore with the incident subsequently bringing international cricket to a standstill in Pakistan.
However, the past week of the PSL in Karachi has gone on to serve as a timely reminder of the resilient spirit of Pakistan cricket and its loyal fans. The National Stadium in Karachi witnessed as many as eight PSL games this time around and the reception from the cricket fans in the country has been overwhelming to say the least.
More than 250,000 spectators in Karachi have attended the eight games with the final affair on Sunday seeing fans packed to the rafters on Sunday. The reception has not just been huge from Pakistan fans but also the overseas stars of the PSL who have made their way to Karachi in abundant numbers.
Thank you Karachi for the love and support.— PakistanSuperLeague (@thePSLt20) March 18, 2019
Cricket fans in Karachi welcomed #HBLPSL with open arms and celebrated cricket in true spirit. This one dedicated to every cricket fan in the city because you proved that it indeed is #KhelDeewanoKa 💚 pic.twitter.com/TeGOUy0Cy5
The wounds of 2009 have meant that the bulk of the PSL has been held in the UAE since the tournament’s inception in 2016 but that picture has been changing gradually. In 2017, the final of the tournament was staged in Lahore amid heavy security in a major breakthrough for the Pakistan Cricket Board.
The 2018 edition was even bigger in that respect with as many as three matches including the final being held on Pakistan soil. Still, there was a long way to go then as far as the revival of international cricket in the country goes with several foreign players opting out of travelling for the Pakistan leg.
This year, however, the turnaround has been drastic. All six franchises have played at least one match on Pakistan soil and nearly all of them have done so with a near full-strength overseas contingent.
International stars such as Shane Watson, Colin Ingram and Kieron Pollard have expressed their awe of the reception they have received in Pakistan. There has been a collective outpouring of support and admiration by the foreign players in the PSL for the job done by Pakistan authorities in successfully hosting the Karachi leg.
It is safe to say that slowly, but positively, the perception of the international community is changing with regards to Pakistan and that is the greatest triumph of PSL 2019.
PCB chairman Ehsan Mani has expressed his hopes of hosting the 2020 edition completely in Pakistan and with the progress made by the board in the last three years, it does not seem like a far-fetched ambition.
It is safe to say that the 2019 edition of the PSL has been the biggest one yet and the huge shift in perception has not been the only positive aspect of the tournament. That PSL has produced several future stars of the Pakistan team with the likes of Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali and Shaheen Afridi being some of the notable examples.
The recently concluded edition has been no different with several youngsters like Mohammad Hasnain and Umer Khan catching the eye. While young Hasnain has already been handed a maiden Pakistan call-up for the upcoming series against Australia, Umer is on course to make his debut sooner rather than later.
The sparse attendances in the UAE-leg of the tournament remains the only blemish on what has been a resoundingly successful PSL but things should only get better with Pakistan seeing more matches on home soil.
PSL 2019 has been an excellent one all-round for Pakistan cricket and the 2020 promises to be even bigger. It is now up to the Pakistan cricket authorities to seize the momentum that has been generated and keep the bandwagon rolling.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman was on hand to witness a packed crowd for the final at the National Stadium in Karachi on Sunday. The final between Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi was the eighth match of the 2019 edition to be staged on Pakistan soil and the overwhelming response has given Mani renewed optimism for the next edition of the tournament.
“Next year we look forward to welcome you back with all the PSL matches in Pakistan,” Mani said in his address to the crowd on Sunday.
“Today for Pakistan, especially for Karachi, it’s a historic day. Since PSL is in Karachi, over 200,000 spectators witnessed the games at the stadium and millions witnessed on TV and digital platform.
PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani on #HBLPSL 2019: "The fans made this a truly Pakistan event. Cricket euphoria gripped the entire country as the fans got behind the tournament and made this an overwhelming success."— PakistanSuperLeague (@thePSLt20) March 18, 2019
“The biggest reward should be given to the people of Karachi, the way you people have supported and embraced PSL 4 here in your city. The love and support was extraordinary.”
The Karachi leg of PSL 2019 saw a remarkable turnout from the various overseas stars of the six franchises in stark contrast to last year where many foreign players had backed out from travelling to Pakistan due to security concerns.
This year, all six franchises went in with a near full-strength overseas contingent to Pakistan with the likes of Shane Watson, Kieron Pollard and Colin Ingram leading the way.
“Finally, I would like to say that all overseas players, officials and technical support teams, you have seen yourself the passion and love for cricket in Pakistan. Next year we look forward to welcome you back with all the PSL matches in Pakistan,” Mani said to conclude.
The bulk of the PSL is currently still being staged in the UAE. The inaugural edition in 2016 was held entirely in the UAE while the final in 2017 was held in Lahore amidst tight security. In 2018, three matches including the final and two Eliminators were held in Pakistan.