20 emerging players are part of the PSL franchises' squads for PSL 7, and they look to impress on the big stage.
Islamabad United picked up Mubasir Khan with their first emerging pick. It may not have been the most apparent call, with Mubasir having little experience of T20 cricket. However, United like seeing First Class performances, in particular, to gauge young players’ temperaments, and Mubasir came up trumps. The 19-year-old was the best all-rounder and Player of the Tournament in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. He has two first-class hundred and two five-wicket hauls, with a batting average of 38+ and a bowling average under 26. He also showed some glimpses of his T20 ability in the National T20 Cup.
For their second emerging pick, Islamabad United utilized the right-to-match option to deny Peshawar Zalmi the chance to draft Zeeshan Zameer. The youngster is part of the Under-19 World Cup squad and is likely to miss most or all of the first half of the PSL. However, he offers excellent long-term value. In the U19 Asia Cup recently, he recently picked up 5/60 and 4/32 against India and Sri Lanka. A six-foot-tall 19-year-old who bowls with good pace, Zeeshan’s favorite fast-bowler is the terrific Australian captain Pat Cummins – to the extent that he sports number 30 on his shirt, the same number as the Aussie.
For their third emerging pick, Islamabad United picked up Athar Mahmood after his excellent performances in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy this season. The 22-year-old hails from Sialkot and is also a cousin of Hasan Ali. He made his T20 debut in the National T20 Cup and clocked 140kph, but it was the longer format where he impressed. He took 18 wickets in the 2021/22 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, averaging a shade under 20, including a terrific match haul of 8/84 against Sindh. He was particularly impressive with the new ball, picking up 10 wickets at an average of just 15 in the first 20 overs of innings.
In the replacement draft, United further bolstered their squad with the addition of Mohammad Huraira as a partial replacement for Zeeshan Zameer. The 19-year-old opener was the best batsman of the 2021/22 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, scoring a staggering 986 runs in his debut season at an average of 58 with an SR of almost 69. That included three hundreds, one of which was a stunning triple-hundred against Balochistan. The youngster was particularly outstanding against spinners in the tournament, averaging a spectacular 93 against the slower bowlers.
Multan Sultans’ first emerging pick at the draft was Abbas Afridi. The 20-year-old played for Karachi Kings last season and is an enterprising cricketer, handy with both bat and ball. He bowled an impressive spell of 2/27 in 4 overs on PSL debut last season in his side’s win against Peshawar Zalmi, while he also showed his batting ability with an 18-ball 27* containing three sixes. The youngster played for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 2nd XI in this domestic season and had some good performances, while he also toured Sri Lanka with Pakistan Shaheens and picked up 4/30 in an excellent 10-over spell in an unofficial ODI.
The Sultans’ second pick at the draft was 23-year-old batter Aamer Azmat. The youngster is a tall, lanky, aggressive top-order batsman from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He made his domestic debut last season, playing a few matches for KP in the Pakistan Cup, then also debuted in T20s this season during the National T20 Cup. He has impressed at the 2nd XI level, where he was the top run-scorer in both white-ball tournaments. In the T20 tournament, he amassed 242 runs in 4 innings @ 61 with an SR of 155, including 3 fifties. In the 50-over tournament, he made 335 runs in 5 innings @ 67, SR 115, including a staggering 168. He also hit a hundred in the 2nd XI 3-Day tournament.
The third emerging pick for Multan was Ihsanullah as a supplementary pick. Ihsanullah is a tall fast-bowler from Swat who has been clocked bowling at 145kph. He started out playing tape-ball cricket before moving to Mardan. There, he was spotted at a fast-bowling camp by Ali Zia from the NCA. He then played at PakLions International Cricket Academy, working on his skills; he has a mean bouncer and can bowl hard lengths. Additionally, he has also played 2nd XI cricket for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Sultans drafted him after recommendations from KP coach Abdul Rehman and Rashid Latif.
Peshawar Zalmi’s first pick in the emerging category was Sirajuddin. A 20-year-old fast-bowler from Bajaur Agency in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sirajuddin has gone through a lot at a tender age, including the loss of both parents. He came through Regional and Inter-District Under-19 tournaments before being integrated into the Cricket Associations system this season, where he represented Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. A few doubts were raised over his bowling action, but he was subsequently cleared by the ICC-accredited Biomechanics lab at LUMS. Standing at a shade under six feet, the right-armer clocked 145kph+ at franchise trials ahead of PSL 7. He admires the Aussie duo of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins.
Arish Ali Khan
Zalmi’s second emerging pick was initially Zeeshan Zameer, but Islamabad United utilized their RTM option to take him back. Hence, they went with Mohammad Amir Khan, another KP pacer who represented Pakistan at the Under-19 World Cup. However, he was recently ruled out of PSL 7 due to injury, and Arish Ali Khan has now taken over. A 21-year-old left-arm spinner from Karachi, Arish is highly rated and represented Quetta Gladiators last season. He played one match for them, which remains his only T20 appearance to date, and picked up 4/28 against Karachi Kings, including the wickets of Sharjeel Khan, Martin Guptill, Najibullah Zadran, and Imad Wasim.
The Yellow Storm later picked up Mohammad Umar as a supplementary emerging option. A 22-year-old right-arm pacer from Karachi, Umar played for Multan Sultans last season. He has had some impressive displays for Sindh in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and was the fifth-highest wicket-taker in the 2021 Pakistan Cup, with 15 wickets @ 24 (economy 5.8). Another cricketer from a humble background, Umar thought he was being pranked when he was told that he was signed by the Sultans for PSL 6. He will look to make a big impression this season after getting few opportunities last time around due to the magnificence of Shahnawaz Dahani.
Karachi Kings’ first pick in the emerging category was Faisal Akram, a potential blockbuster investment in the long run. The 18-year-old has come through the age-group levels and made his domestic cricket debut in the National T20 Cup, dismissing Mohammad Rizwan. He is highly rated and was called up to a training camp ahead of Pakistan’s tour of South Africa to help the batsmen prepare for Tabraiz Shamsi. He showed he’s no slouch either, picking up the wicket of Babar Azam. As a wrist-spinner, Faisal will look to improve his control with experience, and he would need to bowl a touch faster for T20 cricket.
The Kings’ second emerging pick was Under-19 captain Qasim Akram, as they utilized their right-to-match option to thwart Islamabad United’s attempt. A right-hander batter capable of striking some lusty blows and bowl handy off-spin, the youngster may be viewed as a natural long-term replacement for the aging Mohammad Nabi, who brings a lot of balance to the side. Babar Azam is his role model with the bat, while Mohammad Hafeez is who he looks to emulate as an all-rounder. The youngster massively impressed in the 2021 50-over Pakistan Cup, making 462 runs in 12 innings @ 58 with an SR of 101+.
In the Supplementary category, Karachi Kings picked up emerging player Talha Ahsan. The 18-year-old leg-spinner from Karachi is somewhat of an unknown commodity at the national level. He has, most recently, represented Sindh Under-19s in the Under-19 domestic tournaments. In the 2020 edition of the one-day tournament, he picked up 12 wickets @ 28 (econ 4.1), while he picked up 7 wickets @ 17 (econ 3.6) in the 2021 edition. Karachi Kings GM Faisal Mirza has stated that the youngster bowls fast and accurate wrist-spin, a style of bowling popularized by the likes of Rashid Khan in the T20 format.
With the Akram duo away on Under-19 duty for most of the first leg of the tournament, Karachi also signed up Mohammad Taha as a partial replacement. The 21-year-old is a left-handed middle-order batter who can bowl handy left-arm spin. He has represented the Pakistan Under-19s and Pakistan Shaheens. Moreover, he has played a few matches in the National T20 Cup – two apiece in 2020 and 2021. His last T20 appearance saw him win the Man of the Match award for a patient 47* in a small chase.
Lahore Qalandars had the first pick in the emerging category, and they immediately picked up Zaman Khan. A 20-year-old pacer from Kashmir, Zaman plays for Northern in the domestic circuit and caught the eye in the past few months. He initially took part in the televised Kashmir Premier League and then participated in the National T20 Cup. He was the 4th-highest wicket-taker in the KPL with 10 wickets @ 17.8 (econ 7.7), while he picked up 6 wickets @ 22.8 (econ 8.1) in the NT20. The 5’11-tall speedster can bowl 140kph+ and sees Shoaib Akhtar as a role model, although his action is fairly similar to Lasith Malinga. He also possesses a good skill set, able to bowl with the new and old ball.
The Qalandars’ second emerging pick was Maaz Khan, a familiar face who has been with the franchise for several seasons. He last represented the franchise in their PSL 5 campaign, with the highlight being his dismissal of Babar Azam in the Kings-Qalandars derby. Maaz also played some domestic cricket for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa this season and was often spotted alongside the main squads, indicating that the young leggie is being groomed for the future. He played for the KP 2nd XI in the 3-Day 2nd XI tournament, where he registered a match haul of 9/155 against Northern and almost bowled his side to victory. With very few leg-spinners participating in the tournament, his tally of 18 wickets @ 26.7 stood out.
Syed Faridoun Mahmood
In the supplementary picks, the Qalandars picked up Syed Faridoun as their third emerging option. The youngster, a 20-year-old left-arm wrist-spinner, is another product of the Lahore Qalandars Player Development Program. Consequently, he was signed up by the Melbourne Stars for BBL 11 and made his debut in Australia. Initially a finger-spinner, the bespectacled talent switched to wrist-spin after feedback from Lahore Qalandars’ Head Coach Aaqib Javed. The Qalandars’ coach also stated that Rashid Khan had been impressed by Faridoun, saying that he would be “Pakistan’s best bowler in three years.”
Abdul Wahid Bangalzai
Quetta’s first emerging pick was Abdul Wahid Bangalzai, a Balochistan native. The 18-year-old was initially supposed to miss the first few games of the tournament due to being part of the Under-19 World Cup squad. However, he contracted COVID and had to miss out on the World Cup, meaning he will be available for the PSL. He made his FC debut in the recently concluded Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and enjoyed batting on the batsmen-friendly pitches in Punjab, making 366 runs in 5 games @ 61, including a double hundred. He was also in the top ten run-scorers of the 2021 National T20 Cup, with 232 runs @ 26, although the strike rate was on the lower side at just 106.
The second emerging pick for Quetta Gladiators was Ashir Qureshi, a 20-year-old leg-spin bowling all-rounder. The youngster has represented Pakistan Under-19s in the past and has taken part in several Under-19 tournaments, although he hasn’t managed to make a name for himself on the domestic circuit just yet. Quetta owner Nadeem Omar reportedly rates him highly, and this may be a chance for Ashir to make an impression on the big stage. His performances in Under-19 tournaments certainly show him to be a capable all-rounder, and he has had reasonable success with both bat and ball.
Quetta Gladiators were one of two sides not to pick a third emerging player in the main draft (the third pick being in the Supplementary round). However, once the squads were expanded, they rectified that by bringing back Ghulam Mudassar. The 22-year-old was once a part of the Lahore Qalandars Player Development Program and also played one match for the Qalandars. He then moved to the Gladiators, where he played five games in their title-winning season (PSL 4). Once considered a bright talent, the left-arm pacer lost his way due to injuries and consequent changes to his action but will be looking to bounce back in style.