Lahore Qalandars clinched the title in the 7th edition of the PSL, beating PSL 6 champions Multan Sultans in the final.
The seventh edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL 2022) concluded on Sunday night in an enchanting setting at the Gaddafi Stadium. Lahore Qalandars secured the silverware for the first time ever, and doing so in front of a jam-packed home crowd embellished the occasion. The first half of the tournament was played in Karachi, where teams batting first won 53.3% of the matches compared to the 68.4% in Lahore. The average first innings total across all 30 matches, barring the play-offs, was around the 180 mark.
In this article, we take a bird’s eye view of the recently concluded PSL 2022 and try to dissect how different teams fared in different phases across the competition, both with the bat and in the field. We also attempt to identify key players from the six sides who made crucial contributions in these differing phases and the overall impact they might have had on their team’s cause.
Multan Sultans reigned supreme in the group stages, winning nine matches and losing a solitary game. They got their batting template spot on and nearly went all the way to clinch their second PSL title in consecutive years. The phase-wise batting breakdown of teams across the tournament suggests that the Sultans were among the slowest teams off the blocks. Their in-form opening duo of Shan Masood and Mohammad Rizwan tended to get them off steady starts (not sluggish by any means, as we’ll find later). Therefore, although they had the second-lowest powerplay strike rate throughout the PSL, they had, by far, the best batting average in the first six overs owing to Masood and Rizwan establishing a solid launchpad which, in turn, set them perfectly for powerful assaults later on.
Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators were right up there when it came to getting off to blazing starts and accumulating more than 3/4th of their powerplay runs through boundaries. These were the only two teams that took less than four deliveries per boundary in the first six overs. On the other end of the spectrum were Karachi, who failed to utilize the powerplay despite constant tinkering with the top-order. Their balls-per-boundary (BPB) ratio in this period was 5.5 – the highest.
It’s powerplay bashers like Jason Roy, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, and Paul Stirling who sent the tone for their franchises right from the word go – taking just about three balls to score a boundary and striking at over 180. 84.9% of Stirling’s runs and 82.9% of Gurbaz’s runs in the powerplay came through boundaries, followed by Hales’ 76.8%, which shows United’s ultra-aggressive approach with the bat. Mohammad Haris, the budding wicket-keeper batsman, played a similar role for Zalmi up top.
Fakhar Zaman, who played a central role in Lahore Qalandars’ title-winning campaign, struck at over 150 and averaged a remarkable 63.8 during the powerplay. He was dismissed only four times in the powerplay throughout the tournament, which allowed him to inflict damage on the oppositions in the middle-overs too. Karachi’s skipper Babar Azam’s powerplay struggles were well documented in this year’s PSL. He took more than an over to score a boundary and had the lowest powerplay strike rate among players who scored 100 or more runs in this period.
Moving on to the middle-overs phase, it can be instantly observed that the Sultans fared relatively better than their counterparts. It was in the latter half of the innings when their extremely potent middle-order comprising Khushdil Shah, Rilee Rossouw, and Tim David would start clawing its way into the match. The Qalandars, for much of the tournament, actually struggled to get things going in the middle ten overs. They had the highest BPB ratio during this period and the second-lowest strike rate on top of that.
Islamabad approached the middle-overs differently with an all-guns-blazing approach, with every incoming player trying to take the attack to the opposition relentlessly. They lost the most number of wickets in the middle-overs (37), which somehow stemmed the flow of runs, but they also were the most determined on boundary-hitting, with 56.32% of their middle-overs runs coming through boundaries.
This is where the importance of the likes of Fakhar Zaman, Shadab Khan, and Tim David as middle-overs triggermen transpires before us. Fakhar was the only batsman to score more than 300 runs in the middle-overs phase throughout the tournament, striking at 150.5 and hitting 15 sixes, of which 11 came against spin-bowling. Shadab led Islamabad’s middle-overs charge from the front, accumulating 200 runs and striking at 156.3 against spin. Tim’s belligerence during the middle-overs was a revelation and gave the Sultans the impetus they needed. He was destructive, if that’s one way to put it (57 off 31 vs. spin and 99 off 51 vs. pace), with an astonishing BPB of 3.6 – easily the best for any batsman in PSL 2022 who faced 60 or more deliveries in overs 7-16.
On the other hand, it looks like Rizwan has done exceptionally poorly, with his balls-per-boundary ratio touching 15.6. But this is because he hasn’t had to do the hard yards himself. With Masood upping the ante from the other end and the likes of Rossouw and Tim letting loose, Rizwan has been content with nurdling the strike around to the big guns while still striking at 128. Iftikhar Ahmed, though, had an abysmal run of form in this phase, scoring just 71 runs off 72 balls with only 3 boundaries to his name. Sarfaraz Ahmed was not up to the mark either, and this deceleration went on to hurt the Gladiators after the consistently good work done by the likes of Jason Roy, Ahsan Ali, and Will Smeed at the top.
The two finalists, Lahore and Multan, were head and shoulders above all other teams when it came to power-hitting at the death. These two sides struck well over 190 in the last four overs and scored boundaries extremely frequently. On the rear-end of the list were Karachi, who not only took more than an over to score a boundary at the death but also had the lowest strike rate and lost wickets in heaps as indicated by the average.