PSL 7 Recap & PSL 8 Recruitment Analysis

Looking back at the trends during PSL 7, how Lahore Qalandars clinched their maiden title, and recruitment for PSL 8.

Last season saw Lahore Qalandars ending their PSL drought, winning the tournament for the first time. They finally lived up to their potential as a side after disappointing in many of the previous editions, where they’d finished bottom of the league on four separate occasions. That title victory for Lahore now means that all six of the PSL franchises have won the tournament, with Islamabad being the only side to win it more than once. Considering there have only been seven PSL seasons so far, this is a stat that highlights the competitiveness of the league and the effectiveness of the draft format they use, even if there are a few weird quirks to it.

PSL 7 Recap

Even though they didn’t finish top of the table last season in the league stage, Lahore still deserved their maiden PSL title. They were probably the strongest side and were above average with bat & ball:

You’d say it was with the ball where they impressed the most, being consistent across the board, and their pace trio of Shaheen, Rauf, and Zaman Khan excelled, especially in the Lahore leg. The batting was a bit weaker and perhaps more reliant on a couple of players; they weren’t particularly convincing against spin or generally batting through the middle overs. However, Fakhar had an outstanding tournament at the top of the order, while Harry Brook & David Wiese did some great work later on in the innings. Beyond that, there wasn’t much to shout about with the bat.

Multan were the other team that impressed last season and adapted to the slightly slower conditions in Lahore – during the second half of the tournament – much quicker than other teams:

Scoring rates fell significantly in Lahore, and there was a fairly similar drop in economy rates for both pace & spin bowlers, with an increase in the percentage of deliveries bowled by spinners in Lahore. The Multan spin attack performed well in both legs, but recognizing the conditions and adjusting their bowling attack to suit was the best move they made last season:

Multan bowled more spin than any other side in the Lahore leg, bringing Asif Afridi into the team, in addition to Tahir and Khushdil, who were already prominent bowlers in their XI. This meant that Multan bowled over 50% of their deliveries through spinners in the Lahore leg, and it was surely a big part of why they managed to win 9/10 matches in the league stage. It’s worth noting that they were also quite risk-averse against spin (highest average) and also had the highest percentage of deliveries faced by LHBs last season. Overall, they played the conditions very well last season and could consider themselves unlucky not to win the tournament based on their consistency, but they were outclassed by a strong Lahore side in the final.

As for the other teams, they were far less impressive and had work to do between seasons if they were to bridge the gap to Lahore/Multan ahead of PSL 2023. Here’s a brief summary of their 2022 seasons:

  • Islamabad United: Extremely weak pace attack – questionable decision to sign Marchant de Lange as their Diamond overseas pick (he only played five games). Dawson and Shadab were their two standout bowlers by a distance. Batting was much better for the most part, though they performed much better in Karachi, scoring at 9.52 RPO vs. 7.74 RPO in Lahore. Availability issues were probably partly to blame for the drop-off; Islamabad used 25 players last season (joint most).
  • Karachi Kings: Generally awful, especially with the bat – lowest scoring rate against both pace & spin. Recruited poorly, which resulted in an XI featuring no wrist spin options or high pace, as well as a weak group of overseas players compared to the rest of the competition. Overseas batters were particularly poor, averaging 16 while striking at 111 (the next lowest SR in the last three seasons is 127), which you can’t afford in the PSL. Bowling numbers looked better than they were due to inefficiencies involved with chasing lower totals in T20 cricket.
  • Peshawar Zalmi: Tough to summarize – had some good players but didn’t have a bowling attack that was suited to the conditions. Not having a high-quality frontline spin option definitely held them back. Also struggled with availability, using 25 players. The emergence of Mohammad Haris was a big positive; he struck at 185 in the five games he played last season.
  • Quetta Gladiators - Despite a few more positive signs last season, it ended with an all too familiar outcome, as they finished in the bottom two for a third consecutive season. Dominated against pace but struggled against spin with the bat – 9.4 vs. 6.25 RPO. Spin attack was extremely weak, going for 0.96 RPO more than the 2nd most expensive (Zalmi). It was a breakthrough season for Naseem Shah, who led the attack and bowled well in all phases.

Player availability for PSL 8

This season gets underway on February 13, with knockout matches on the 15th, 16th & 17th of March before the final takes place on the 19th. There are also some Women’s exhibition matches taking place during the season.

The PSL has done well to avoid any major clashes with other T20 competitions, considering the amount of cricket that’s being played at the moment. The finals of the SA20 & ILT20 take place on February 11th & 12th, respectively, so there could be an issue with a couple of the earlier PSL games, but other than that, it should only be international games that the PSL has to deal with. I believe these are all of the potential availability clashes that could impact the upcoming PSL season:

Not every series listed above is scheduled to have a PSL overseas player involved in it. Still, in case of last-minute replacements/squad changes, I’ve listed all the international tours that are taking place during the PSL.

In any case, a lot of teams have already sorted replacements for their missing overseas players, and this was announced recently: