PSL 2021: What Went Wrong for the Quetta Gladiators?

The Pakistan Super League 2019 Champions won only 2 out of 10 matches in the sixth edition of the tournament.

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The Draft

The Gladiators have been famously street smart at PSL drafts, but they may have made a few ill-advised choices this year. For starters, they picked young England pyro Tom Banton in the Platinum category. Now Tom is a very promising player and seems destined to evolve into one of the best in the world, but his poor returns last season could’ve cautioned Quetta against taking a gamble on a thus-far unknown quantity. Nevertheless, after picking him as their platinum player, one would’ve assumed that he will line up for them in every game when available. He was dropped after two games, which sums up Quetta’s scatterbrained thinking this season.

 

Matches

Runs

Average

SR

HS

Tom Banton in the PSL

9

83

10.4

122.1

34

The Gladiators had a promising but young pace attack; it needed a leader. They identified that leader as Dale Steyn. Five years ago, this would’ve been a no-brainer. Dale Steyn is available, and you pick him. However, he is now a shadow of the great player he once was. He could perhaps be used in a new ball role but certainly not as a leader who bowls two at the top and two at the death.

 

Inns

Wickets

Average

Economy

Death Econ

Dale Steyn since 2020

14

11

37.7

8.4

10.6

Saim Ayub is another young batsman that they took a gamble on that didn’t pay off. It is here that one may question their team construction. Inexperienced local batsmen, let alone those as young as Saim, rarely fare well in the PSL. This is why most teams gravitate to fast bowlers who they can then hide by making them bowl the easy overs. It is admirable that they felt Saim could make the step up but keeping a backup plan is only logical.

They instead picked Aarish Ali Khan as their second emerging player; Aarish was with the team in PSL 2020 but didn’t get a game, so they perhaps felt honor-bound to pick him again. However, maybe they should’ve looked at the reason why he may not have played.

Quetta already had their slow left-arm spinner, with Mohammad Nawaz one of the first names down in the team sheet. It is very rare for T20 teams to pick two SLAs, especially on pitches as flat as the Karachi ones turned out to be. Aarish is yet to play a PSL game… Meanwhile, Saim was dropped as soon as they drafted an emerging fast bowler, Khurram Shahzad, in the replacement draft.

 

Matches

Runs

Average

Strike Rate

Saim Ayub in PSL 5

6

95

15.83

105.6

Fast Bowling

Quetta have conceded runs at the highest economy rate this season. This is majorly down to their young pace attack lacking a leader. Mohammad Hasnain, in particular, has disappointed with him being unable to provide breakthroughs in the Powerplay (PP SR 48.0) or restrict runs at the death (Death Econ. 12.81). It is an unfortunate fall for the second-highest wicket-taker of PSL 5. His fellow youngster, Naseem Shah, has failed to pick a wicket in the three games he has played, disappearing at an economy rate of 12.33. 

Their utilization of Usman Shinwari can be questioned, with Shinwari being among the better Powerplay bowlers this season but being typically expensive outside of it. One could make a case of him being used like Lahore Qalandars used James Faulkner, i.e., bowling all four of his overs upfront on the trot. That would entail bowling more overs in the 7-11 phase:

Usman Shinwari

Overs

Wickets

Average

Economy

Powerplay

11.0

4

19.8

7.18

Overs 7-11

1.0

0

-

9.00

Overs 12-20

6.0

1

85.0

14.17

Mohammad Nawaz

Nawaz has been a regular for Quetta since the start of the PSL in 2016, but his bowling form has been indifferent as of late. His overs per innings figure tells us that the captain, Sarfaraz Ahmed, doesn’t feel he can depend on Nawaz to bowl his full spell, something he regularly did in the early years of the PSL. This has meant a 6th bowler has had to be employed to share his overs with Nawaz.

Year

Overs/Inns

Wickets

Econ

Avg

SR

2016

3.54

13

6.56

18.00

16.50

2017

3.30

10

8.00

26.40

19.80

2018

3.27

7

5.44

28.00

30.90

2019

3.83

13

7.61

26.90

21.20

2020

2.78

6

8.32

34.70

25.00

2021

2.89

6

7.50

32.50

26.00

Nawaz’s utilization this season has been the same as it was last year; it is confusing why Quetta didn’t look to readjust his playing role after identifying that he may no longer be a dependable four overs bowler (like most SLAs these days). With him showing batting potential in the domestic season, they tried to readjust his batting role. However, he has never shown much death-hitting prowess to be at 7 and could perhaps have been better employed in the middle overs.

The Openers

Quetta have famously employed an overseas openers policy. They would’ve been looking to emulate that once again with the picking of Tom Banton, Faf du Plessis, Cameron Delport, Chris Gayle, and then Jake Weatherald. However, the opening combination has failed to deliver, with form and team construction sometimes dictating that they play two local openers. It has resulted in Quetta’s openers returning the worst numbers for any team this season (group stage).

Team

Runs

Avg

SR

BpB

100s

50s

Islamabad United

664

41.5

159.2

3.86

1

3

Karachi Kings

813

47.8

139.9

5.23

1

7

Multan Sultans

677

35.6

135.4

5.21

0

6

Peshawar Zalmi

419

21.0

130.5

5.18

0

3

Lahore Qalandars

436

22.9

119.8

5.87

0

2

Quetta Gladiators

357

17.9

114.8

5.76

0

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The Toss

With all the team construction issues and the loss of form of their main players, Quetta would’ve needed their fair share of luck to compete in this PSL season. Luck they did not receive with their captain losing 8 out of his 10 tosses this season. In a competition where the chasing team has a significant advantage, especially in Karachi, this was an advantage Quetta could ill afford to concede.

Team

Toss Wins

Matches

Toss Win %

Quetta Gladiators

2

10

20%

Multan Sultans

3

10

30%

Lahore Qalandars

6

10

60%

Peshawar Zalmi

6

10

60%

Karachi Kings

6

10

60%

Islamabad United

7

10

70%

Conclusion

The shift to Pakistan has not been kind on Quetta, but their struggles in the UAE leg prove that there are significant problems they need to address before the next PSL season begins. They may have to be brutal in their retentions and pragmatic (as they once were) at the draft.

In a six-team tournament, every single team should be able to compete. Otherwise, the tournament will lose its flavor.

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