Pakistan Super League 2023 Preview – Quetta Gladiators

Sarfaraz Ahmed's men have failed to reach the playoffs in the last 3 seasons. Will PSL 8 provide a turnaround?

Last season’s finish – 5th, winning 4/10 matches in the league stage.

Coach – Moin Khan

Captain – Sarfaraz Ahmed

Since winning their maiden PSL title in 2019, Quetta have been seriously disappointing in the seasons that have followed – failing to reach the playoffs in each of the last three editions. Prior to that, they’d qualified for the knockout rounds in all four of the first PSL seasons. It represents a very underwhelming run of performances and perhaps the culmination of some poor decision-making on & off the field.

Last year, there were a few more positive signs than in their 2021 season when they only won 2/10 matches. The performances of Naseem Shah will have offered plenty of encouragement, and Quetta will be hoping that he can lead their attack this year. The overseas duo of Jason Roy and Will Smeed were dismissive when batting together at the top of the order; both will return to the franchise this season, though the recent performances of Roy will be of huge concern.

Whatever positives there were to take from last season, Quetta still had quite a few glaringly obvious flaws, and most of those centered around spin, whether with bat or ball. Firstly, their spin bowling attack was really, really bad:

It was one of, if not the worst, in PSL history. This wouldn’t have been helped by Nawaz missing half of their games, but they also didn’t back any of the other spinners they had in the squad for long enough. Hassan Khan, Noor Ahmad & Ashir Qureshi all featured for Quetta last season, but none played more than four matches. Shahid Afridi was also part of the squad; however, he only played three matches and actually announced his retirement midway through the season.

The spin attack being so poor was one thing, though in the PSL – where less spin is bowled than in most other leagues – you could potentially get away with it if you’ve got a well-rounded batting lineup, but Quetta certainly didn’t have that either:

They were belligerent vs. non-spin, with all five of their players who faced at least 30 deliveries of non–spin bowling, striking at over 150, resulting in the fastest scoring season we’ve seen from a team against non-spin in the last three seasons and possibly the entirety of the PSL. In contrast to that, they were completely awful against spin, only in a battle with Karachi (also last season) to see who could be more useless, with Quetta just edging it:

Not only were both teams awful from a scoring rate perspective but also from a dismissals point of view. Once again, Quetta edged it here, finishing the season with the worst average against spin in PSL history.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, they were poor vs. all spin types:

Their numbers vs. leg spin and SLA were particularly poor, especially leg spin, where they scored at under 6 RPO and averaged a shade above 10. For perspective, the average for other teams in the tournament was 7.54 RPO and an average of 21.7. Although they fared slightly better against off-spin/LAWS, teams didn’t bowl much of that to them because they were a very RH-heavy side:

Only two teams have had a lower percentage of deliveries faced by LHBs in the previous three PSL seasons, and one of those was also Quetta in the 2020 season. This also looks to be an issue for them again this season unless they pull some surprises with their XI. Although a full season of Nawaz would help them out slightly, though his record vs. spin in higher-level competitions isn’t particularly impressive, there’s a feeling amongst most fans that it’s a matter of when, not if, he’ll turn that around.

All in all, Quetta’s batting performances last season were the most extreme we’ve seen in recent PSL seasons:

There’s a comfortable distance between them and the rest; we’ve never seen such a difference between a team’s batting quality against non-spin and spin. I’d struggle to think of a team in any franchise competition, let alone the PSL, where a team has been more extreme than this over the course of a season.

Have they addressed any of the above issues between seasons?