Looking back at the best players of PSL 5, 6 & 7 ahead of the eighth edition of the league.
Finally, a look at the best performers from recent PSL seasons and who we can expect to be key players for their respective franchises this year:
Dot’s color indicates % of deliveries faced in the middle overs (7-16). Averages are for top 7 batters in the PSL.
Unsurprisingly, given what has been mentioned before, many standout batters are overseas players, with the likes of Colin Munro, Alex Hales, Rilee Rossouw, and Tim David all boasting seriously impressive records. Ben Cutting’s strike rate is also evidence of the success he’s found in the PSL.
Most of the domestic players tend to have more ‘anchor-based’ roles, with Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan being the most extreme examples of that. The fastest-scoring domestic players are Shadab Khan and Asif Ali, who both play for Islamabad, which perhaps shouldn’t be surprising, given the attacking brand of cricket they play. Shadab has been brilliant in his middle-order role in the PSL, averaging 34 while striking at 161 at number 4.
Hussain Talat and Sohail Akhtar have been the worst-performing batters. Akhtar is without a team this year, while Talat has moved to Lahore. His PSL record is really poor, but his NT20 numbers suggest there’s a bit more in the tank. Iftikhar is another player that’s underwhelmed; all eyes will be on him this year as he’s coming into the tournament off the back of an impressive BPL.
Boundary percentage vs. non-boundary strike rate
Dot’s color indicates balls per six hit. Averages are for top 7 batters in PSL.
Tim David once again excels here, being closest to the ideal top right corner, with Rossouw also impressing – both are in the Multan squad again this season. Sharjeel and Kamran Akmal are the most regular boundary hitters from the domestic players, though Sharjeel is comfortably the worst strike rotator of the batters that meet the sample size requirement.
Lots of Pakistan batters are still quite stroke-rotation orientated – Malik, Rizwan, and Sarfaraz are some of the best or lack the ability to hit regular boundaries. Some certainly do have the ability to hit boundaries more regularly than they currently do. It’ll be interesting to see if any national team players that have perhaps played within themselves in previous seasons adapt their approach in the coming season. With more competition for places than ever before, places in the T20 setup might not be as secure.
Strike rate against non-spin & spin
It’s interesting that no players even get close to the ideal top right corner, though I expect Tim David would – he just doesn’t meet the required sample size. It could also indicate that some players have more clearly defined roles in the PSL and that there’s a lack of quality, well-rounded T20 batters that can score quickly against any bowling type.
Jason Roy and Shadab Khan are the only two players that strike at an above-average rate against non-spin and spin, further showcasing the unique skill set that Shadab has. If Roy can somehow regain the form he’s shown previously in the PSL, that would drastically improve Quetta’s chances next season.
Hales and Rossouw are the fastest scorers against non-spin, while Munro and Kamran Akmal both have very impressive numbers against spin, particularly Munro, who has scored 286 runs from 153 deliveries, with only five dismissals against spinners over the last three seasons.
Starting strike rate vs. strike rate after first ten balls
Dot size indicates average in first ten balls
Hales has been the front-runner in terms of starting his innings quickly, particularly in the 2020 & 21 seasons, where he struck at 170 in his first ten balls, but he wasn’t quite so fluent last year (127). He’s also done this with incredible reliability, only being dismissed twice, meaning he also has the highest average of any batter (that meets the sample size requirement) inside his first ten balls. The only batter that gets close to matching Hales’ level of consistency is Rizwan, who’s also only been dismissed twice but scores at a much slower rate, though there’s still value in that level of reliability at the top of the order.
Fast starters amongst the domestic player group aren’t common; Asif Ali leads the way, and there isn’t really anyone close to him. Haider has shown glimpses of being the dynamic middle-order player he promised to be, but his performances have tailed off in the last couple of seasons. A switch of franchises might be the move he needs to kickstart his career again.
Khushdil is the fastest-scoring player after ten balls, and his starting strike rate isn’t awful either, though there was a big improvement in this regard last season. Prior to that, his starting strike rate was 94 in the previous two seasons. Rossouw and Shadab are others that score very quickly once set; Rossouw is particularly dangerous, averaging almost 50, though he’s a vulnerable starter and is dismissed regularly earlier on in his innings, which we’ve seen a lot more of recently as well.
Iftikhar is the slowest starter but does tend to catch up afterward. The issue for him has been that he’s struggled to do that for a prolonged period of time in a higher-level competition like the PSL, compared to his performances in the BPL/NT20 Cup. Only four of his 26 innings in the PSL (last three seasons) have lasted more than 20 balls, compared to 3/7 in the BPL, and his batting positions haven’t altered massively, though entry points could be different.
Average and strike rate compared to teammates
Note - Only applies to players that have played for the same franchise in the last three seasons or less than 20 balls faced in a season for another franchise. Dot color = boundary percentage difference compared to teammates.
Unsurprisingly most players average more than their teammates because this considers the average of the entire team rather than just the top/middle-order players.
I don’t think it can be argued that Sohail Akhtar has been one of the worst, if not the worst, batters that have regularly featured in the PSL over the last three seasons. Not only has he been the slowest scoring relative to his teammates, but he’s also averaged less, which is quite rare.
Rizwan and Babar also score at a slower rate than their teammates on average, though Babar fairs a little better here because Karachi have been one of the slowest-scoring sides in recent PSL seasons. Furthermore, both have been involved in PSL-winning sides, showing that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for T20s.
Economy rate & strike rate
Dot’s color indicates whether the bowler is a spinner or non-spinner.
Shaheen has been streets ahead of any other pace bowler in the PSL, boasting a lower economy rate than all other pace bowlers while also having one of the better strike rates. Apart from Mohammad Irfan, no other pace bowler (that meets sample size) is within 0.5 RPO of Shaheen’s economy rate in the last three PSL seasons – a lynchpin for the Qalandars, and he was integral to their title success last season.
Other standout pacers include Amir & Naseem Shah, who had a breakthrough season last time out in what was a weak bowling unit. The likes of Hasan Ali, Faheem, Rauf, and Dahani have all had decent individual seasons but haven’t gotten close to the level of consistency that Shaheen has shown.
The best spinner is another Lahore player – Rashid Khan, who has also comfortably outperformed any other spinner in the competition, with Tahir being the next best, and he’s going at almost 1 RPO more than Rashid in the PSL.
The same graph but showcases how often each bowler bowls through the middle overs:
Dot’s color indicates % of deliveries bowled in the middle overs (7–16).
Shaheen’s performances look even more impressive when you consider that he’s bowled more often in crucial phases than any other bowler. Only 11.5% of his deliveries have been bowled through the middle overs, though Amir runs him close in this regard (11.8%).
Of the spinners, it’s only really Nawaz and Imad Wasim that bowl in the powerplay with any sort of regularity; both have bowled over 30% of their deliveries in that phase.
Boundary percentage conceded vs. dot ball percentage
Dot’s color indicates balls per six conceded.
Rashid Khan is in the ideal top left corner, bowling dot balls regularly while limiting boundaries. He and Tahir have conceded boundaries at a similar rate, but Rashid bowls a dot ball every 2.1 deliveries, compared to every 2.9 for Tahir, who also concedes sixes twice as regularly.
Shaheen, Amir, and Irfan are the only pace bowlers that are above average for bowling dot balls and boundary prevention, with Shaheen standing out once again. Meanwhile, Wiese has limited boundaries well but struggles to bowl dot balls, which probably comes as a result of bowling 87% of his deliveries through the middle overs.
Rauf has been a below-average boundary preventer and is also slightly below average when it comes to bowling dot balls, which could surprise a few – his PSL performances haven’t always been the best. However, he’s shown big improvements as a bowler over the last 12 months or so, and I’d expect a better PSL from him this time around.
This graph really highlights the talents of Naseem Shah - one of only three players to have an above-average economy rate in the powerplay and at the death. Shaheen has been phenomenal at the death in the PSL, comfortably outperforming any other bowler; this could be seen as surprising, considering he’s more commonly thought of as a powerplay bowler.
Mohammad Wasim JR has been very good in the later overs, though his strategy of predominantly bowling yorkers is high-risk, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can maintain the success he’s had so far in the PSL/T20Is. Wahab has decent returns at the death as well. However, much of that was done in 2020, and his numbers have dropped over the last couple of years.
Once again, Haris Rauf has been surprisingly expensive at the death, going at almost 11 RPO in the PSL, compared to 7.9 in T20Is, so expect some improvements in that regard this season. Dahani has been expensive in both phases, though it’s potentially a worthwhile tradeoff given his wicket-taking threat.
Mohammad Hasnain is an interesting case; he’s another player that’s shown improvements over the last 12 months, especially with the newer ball. However, his key phase involvement in the PSL has been underwhelming thus far. He’d possibly benefit from being the 3rd pacer in an XI rather than a secondary one, which looks to be his role in the Quetta team for the upcoming season.
Dot size indicates number of balls bowled in the powerplay; color indicates boundary percentage conceded.
Shaheen is not only very effective in this phase, but he also bowls far more deliveries than anyone else. His tally of 439 powerplay deliveries is 145 more than the next highest; having such a banker with the new ball makes planning the rest of your bowling changes much easier.
Samit Patel has done well whenever he’s bowled in the powerplay, but he won’t be returning to the PSL this year. The Karachi duo of Imad and Amir are both good at limiting runs but lack the wicket-taking threat that teams crave early on.
Overall, it looks set to be another competitive PSL season. Lahore will probably go in as favorites, while Islamabad have recruited well and may fancy their chances. Multan are potentially sliding under the radar, though their heavy overseas batting strategy doesn’t necessarily align with the strength of their bowling attack this season. The other three look less likely; however, Quetta have some very talented players in their ranks, and if they play to their potential, they could cause a few upsets.
With no T20 WC on the immediate horizon for the first time in two years, there’ll perhaps be less scrutiny on individual performances than in the previous seasons. Nevertheless, with the next one due to be held in the Caribbean, people in Pakistan will be hoping one or more of the middle-order hopefuls impress, as well as a wrist spin deputy to Shadab, both of which could be key roles at the next T20 WC.
That concludes this article; thanks for reading!
This is the third in a series of articles previewing PSL 8. Part 1 Part 2
You can find the author on Twitter @Haarrre.