PSL 2021 Review: Important Factors for Success!

With the sixth edition coming to an end, we look at some of the key factors behind teams' and players' success.

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The sixth edition of the Pakistan Super League brought a new winner, increasing the champions tally to five. Multan Sultans, who announced their silver category wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan as their new captain less than a week before the tournament start, went on to win their first PSL. Rizwan not only became the winning captain but also scored the 2nd-most runs and affected a record number of dismissals in a PSL season (20). His team was among the bottom two after the Karachi leg but lost only one of their seven games in the 2nd leg. Let’s start this tournament review by taking a look at the important factors in the Karachi leg.

Karachi Leg

The tournament started on 20th February at National Stadium, Karachi (NSK). Some of the prominent things in the Karachi leg were:

Domination of Local Batsmen

Pakistani batsmen, particularly those in the national T20 squad, were in brilliant form in the first leg of PSL 6. All the top six run-scorers in the NSK leg were from the current national T20 squad. These were Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, Sharjeel Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Sarfaraz Ahmed, and Mohammad Hafeez. Five of them had an average above 40, while the same number of them were striking above 140.

Karachi Leg (min 100 runs)

Best Strike Rate

Best Average

Batsman

SR

Batsman

Avg

Mohammad Nabi

179.4

Ravi Bopara

108.0

Mohammad Hafeez

175.7

Mohammad Hafeez

90.5

Joe Clarke

175.4

Babar Azam

86.0

Haider Ali

175.0

Fakhar Zaman

63.0

Alex Hales

171.6

Mohammad Rizwan

59.4

Sharjeel Khan

170.9

Mohammad Nabi

58.0

Powerplay Bowling

Teams who took early wickets were among the successful sides in the Karachi leg. Multan Sultans & Quetta Gladiators conceded more the 50 runs for each wicket they took in the powerplay, while the other four sides with 6 points each conceded less than 25. Quetta & Multan also had the worst and the 3rd worst powerplay economy, respectively.

Bowling Teams in Powerplay (Karachi Leg)

Team

RR

Avg

Balls/Wkt

Islamabad United

5.8

19.9

20.6

Peshawar Zalmi

7.0

23.3

20.0

Lahore Qalandars

7.7

18.5

14.1

Multan Sultans

8.4

50.4

36.0

Karachi Kings

9.4

23.6

15.0

Quetta Gladiators

9.8

59.0

36.0

Win the Toss and Field First

Out of the 34 games in PSL 6, the team winning the toss won the match 25 times. In the Karachi leg, the team winning the toss won 13 of the 14 games. This 93% success rate fell to 60% in the UAE leg. No team decided to bat first in the Karachi leg. In UAE, the team winning the toss chose to bat first four times, winning three of them. Overall, 11 of the 20 games in the UAE leg were won by teams batting first, contrary to 1 of the 14 at NSK.

Abu Dhabi Leg

The Abu Dhabi leg started on 9th June, more than three months after the end of the Karachi leg. Some of the prominent factors in the 2nd leg were:

Foreign Spinners

Spinners performed fairly better in UAE as compared to Pakistan. While they bowled almost the same percentage of overs in both legs (28%), they took 28% of total wickets by bowlers at Abu Dhabi in contrast to 20% at NSK. The overall bowling average fell from 31.8 in the first leg to 27.7 in the second leg. This fall was mainly due to the spinners, who averaged 26.5 – almost 40% better than what they did in Karachi.

Among these spinners, the foreign ones fared much better than the local ones. They took 34 wickets with an average and economy of 20 & 7.2, respectively. Local spinners took 31 wickets with an average of 33, conceding more than 8.6 runs per over. Imran Tahir finished as the joint 2nd-highest wicket-taker in the UAE leg with 11 wickets (@ 12.8).

Best Strike Rate for a Spinner in a PSL Season (min 10 wickets)

Bowler

Season

SR

Wkts

Imran Tahir

6

11.5

13

Samit Patel

3

12.5

13

Sandeep Lamichhane

4

13.5

11

Umer Khan

4

13.6

15

Powerplay Batting

Multan Sultans, Peshawar Zalmi, and Islamabad United, the top three of PSL 6, utilized the powerplay the best in the UAE leg.

Average Powerplay Batting Score (UAE Leg)

Teams

Runs

Wickets

Balls/Boundary

Multan Sultans

52

0.9

4.9

Islamabad United

51

1.9

4.8

Peshawar Zalmi

48

1.3

5.1

Karachi Kings

41

1.2

8.0

Quetta Gladiators

41

1.2

6.7

Lahore Qalandars

39

2.1

7.2

One of the major reasons for Multan’s success in the powerplay was Sohaib Maqsood. He had the 2nd best strike rate and the best average in the first six overs.

Batting in Powerplay (UAE Leg)

 

SR

Avg

Sohaib Maqsood

175

89

Other Local Batsmen

107

25

Overall

116

29

Drop in Strike Rate of Local Batsmen

While the batsmen in the national T20 squad had a great time in Karachi, almost all of them failed to repeat similar performances in the UAE leg.

Batsman

NSK SR

UAE SR

Change (%)

Tournament Average

139.4

133.6

-4.2%

Sohaib Maqsood

139.2

166.5

19.6%

Babar Azam

138.7

127.6

-8.0%

Sarfaraz Ahmed

146.8

127.1

-13.4%

Azam Khan

144.1

122.6

-14.9%

Mohammad Rizwan

140.1

113.4

-19.0%

Sharjeel Khan

170.9

124.3

-27.3%

Fakhar Zaman

143.2

93.3

-34.8%

Mohammad Hafeez

175.7

96.8

-44.9%

Haider Ali

175.0

88.7

-49.3%

Overall Factors

Now, moving onto a couple of factors that remained important in both the legs this season:

Big Overs Proving Game-Changers

Bowlers went expensive much more frequently in PSL 6 than in any earlier edition. There were 40 overs in which a bowler conceded more than 20 runs. (PSL 5 had 23 such overs, the most for any season before PSL 6). 30 of these overs were bowled in losing causes. Overs like these helped batting teams, particularly in setting a defendable total after a poor start. Some of the examples are:

  • Jack Wildermuth’s most expensive overs of the PSL (33 runs). Danish Aziz hit four sixes and a four, helping Karachi qualify for the playoffs.
  • Akif Javed’s 29-run over against Multan in the first Qualifier, with his team losing by 31 runs later on.
  • Amad Butt conceding 20 in his team’s last over in the final.

There were 15 occasions of a bowler conceding 50+ runs in an innings in PSL 6. This has happened 21 times collectively across all the earlier seasons.

Important role of Emerging Pacers

Emerging pacers played a very key role in PSL 6 for their teams, probably more than in any other PSL season. Shahnawaz Dahani ended as the top wicket-taker in the tournament, taking 20 wickets @ 17.0. These were the most by any emerging bowler and the 3rd-highest by any bowler in a PSL season. Mohammad Wasim also remained important for Islamabad’s bowling attack. He finished as the 2nd-highest wicket-taker for them after Hasan Ali and the joint 5th-highest wicket-taker in the league.

While he played only five matches, Khurram Shahzad ended as the 2nd-highest wicket-taker with seven wickets (@ 16.6) for Quetta Gladiators. The two left-arm pacers, Mohammad Imran & Akif Javed, also bowled well, taking 9 and 6 wickets, respectively. Ahmed Daniyal, while failing to perform well, was the only emerging bowler to play all the games of his side.

The significance of emerging bowlers was further raised by some of their match-winning performances. Out of the six four-wicket hauls in the event, four belonged to the emerging bowlers. Seven of the 15 best bowling figures in the tournament were by emerging bowlers.

Conclusion

The domination of local batsmen in Karachi, the important role played by foreign spinners in Abu Dhabi, and the presence of a young lot of pacers made PSL 6 an exciting watch for cricket fans. While more than half of the league did not take place in Pakistan, the shift to the UAE gave the local players a chance to play in the venue of the upcoming T20 World Cup 2021!

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