Ahead of the 2nd leg of the seventh edition of the PSL, we look at how the 1st leg in Karachi panned out.
The Karachi leg of PSL 2022 came to a close on Monday night following Jason Roy’s power-hitting antics against Lahore Qalandars. This was a befitting conclusion to what was a highly action-packed few days of cricket at Karachi’s National Stadium. From Naseem’s scintillating five-wicket haul to Fakhar’s emphatic century to Shadab’s all-round heroics to Tim’s imperious ball-striking and to Willey and Zaman’s spine-chilling final overs, we’ve seen it all.
The honors for the first leg belonged to the indomitable Multan Sultans, who bested every opposition that locked horns with them and are now exercising their power at the top of the ladder. Fate has not been as kind to the PSL 2020 champions, Karachi Kings, who are the nethermost-ranked side on the table and failed to win a single game at their home turf. Islamabad United and Lahore Qalandars have shown real vitality in the early half of the tournament and will be eyeing that top-two finish in the second leg. As for Peshawar Zalmi, they seem to lack the vigor and liveliness that once oozed out of their sides, and their two victories have come against the weaker of the six sides: Karachi and Quetta. Now, before we head towards Lahore for the much-awaited second leg of the tournament, it’s important to delve into how the first leg panned out for each side.
Glimpsing at the points table above, one would think the Sultans would have done many things right to have earned the claim of reigning over everyone else at the halfway stage. Well, for starters, they have got their batting template spot on.
The phase-wise batting breakdown of teams across the first leg suggests that the Sultans have not been among the quickest teams off the blocks. Their in-form opening duo of Shan Masood and Mohammad Rizwan tend to get them off a steady start (not slow by any means, as we’ll find later). Rizwan has time and again emphasized that toss is not wholly important for them and, instead, the team looks at assessing the conditions first and adapting accordingly. Therefore, although the Sultans’ boundary % in the powerplay overs is joint-second last, they strike at a pretty decent 139.4 and barely lose wickets in the first six overs as suggested by that plumped-up average, which, in turn, sets them up perfectly for a powerful assault later on.
This is where the Gladiators, United, and the Qalandars have done better than the Sultans through their respective pairings of Smeed-Ahsan (eventually Roy-Ahsan), Stirling-Hales, and Fakhar-Abdullah. The scatterplot below depicts that despite their relatively conservative approach compared to how the other top teams have fared in the powerplay, the Sultans have still done a decent job through Rizwan and Masood.
All three of Stirling, Hales, and Fakhar have done supremely well through the powerplay and offered that early impetus to their franchises. The Kings, however, haven’t had anyone to give them a decent launching pad. They have both the lowest boundary % and the lowest strike rate in the powerplay. Their skipper, Babar Azam, has particularly found it difficult to get a move on at the start, striking at under 100 and scoring a boundary every 6.8 balls, which can be classified as an outlier in the above plot. Babar has been dismissed just once in the powerplay, which indicates that he has found it challenging to up the ante early on. Together, the Sharjeel-Babar duo have faced 134 of the Kings’ 180 deliveries in the powerplay overs and just haven’t had the same impact as the other teams’ opening pairs.
Moving onto the middle phases, it can be instantly observed that United and the Sultans are the two sides that have done relatively better than the other four teams. While United go out with an all-guns-blazing approach with every incoming player trying to take the attack to the opposition relentlessly, the Sultans pick up the pace from their somewhat steady start and unleash their explosive middle order.
This is where the importance of Shadab Khan and Tim David as middle-overs enforcers transpires before us. Shadab has strung together 140 runs in middle-overs, has been dismissed just once, and has smashed 10 sixes – of which 8 have come against spin-bowling. Tim David has been even more destructive in overs 7-15 (26 off 11 vs. spin and 30 off 15 vs. pace), scoring a boundary every 2.9 deliveries.
On the other side of the spectrum, it looks like Rizwan has done exceptionally poorly, with his balls-per-boundary ratio touching 15.5. 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 Maqsood and Tim letting loose, Rizwan has been content with nurdling the strike around to the big guns while still striking at above 120.
For the Kings, though, things look bleaker considering Babar is the only player from the franchise to have scored 50 or more runs in the middle-overs, and his numbers are well under-par: striking at 115.1 and scoring a boundary every 10.4 balls. The Kings scored the least amount of runs in these overs and lost the most number of wickets (17).