GeneralPSL’s Audition List for the T20 World Cup

PSL’s Audition List for the T20 World Cup

Before the PSL started, I outlined which positions the selectors should look to fill for the T20 World Cup based on PSL performances. The main spots under consideration were:

  • Top three batters
  • Numbers 4, 5 and 6
  • Spin all-rounder
  • Pace all-rounder at number 8

Top Three Batters

In the pre-PSL article, based on the New Zealand (away) series and the availability of other openers, I thought that Babar Azam should bat at number 3 with two powerplay bashers.

However, Babar Azam upped the ante in the powerplay and was one of the standout powerplay batters in this PSL.

Saim Ayub also had the 2nd-most runs at a strike rate even higher than Babar. Saim was already slotted in as one of the openers; all this PSL did was confirm it, particularly with his added bowling success. Babar should join him in the other opening slot, especially after this tournament he just had.

Among the best performers at Number 3 in the PSL were Usman Khan (Multan Sultans) and Salman Ali Agha (Islamabad United). Abdullah Shafique (Lahore Qalandars) also did well but played few games at his preferred position, although he played good innings there, scoring over 100 runs in his two innings at number 3 at a strike rate of 146.

Usman Khan starred for Multan Sultans in this role and won the Best Batsman of the Tournament award with incredible performances. He has come into consideration for the Pakistan team but may be considered for the Number 4 role rather than Number 3. During the PSL, he stated that he learned from the innings building of Babar and Rizwan, which showed in his innings as he tended to take time at the start of his innings before taking on the bowlers once set.

Salman Ali Agha’s role was to bat as an anchor, while the usual Islamabad United firepower exhibited their striking abilities from the other end. He also accelerated when it was needed. His innings against Lahore in the opening game was an example of that.

Even though all of them can accelerate according to the need, one can make a case that with Babar up top, maybe you need an explosive number 3. Mohammad Haris offers that option, although he may not be in consideration after an indifferent PSL. Most importantly, Mohammad Rizwan is the likeliest contender and may bat at number 3 despite his PSL struggles.

Numbers 4, 5 and 6

In the pre-season article, I thought having Azam Khan at 4 and Shadab Khan at 5 would be preferable. This was because Azam would be a spin hitter with Shadab, you could say, as a junk hitter.

However, Islamabad United switched up their roles this year as they played Shadab at 4 and Azam down the order at different numbers. This allowed Shadab’s ability as a batter who can play a longer innings to come to the forefront and allowed Azam’s ability to hit fast bowlers to flourish as well. Azam still had good numbers against spinners in this PSL; his strike rate against spin was near 200, although he often came in to bat in high-risk situations, which led to quite a few dismissals against spin.

For numbers 4 and 5, I would use the same formula as Islamabad United. As a number 6 batter in this PSL, I don’t think anyone comes close to IftiMania. He had some fiery cameos up his sleeve every time Multan needed him. He had a strike rate of over 200 in overs 16-20, including a splendid knock in the final to make the match competitive.

Not only did Iftikhar have a great strike rate, but he was also a regular runscorer in this phase, which is a very tough job. One of the reasons behind this was that Multan Sultans knew how to utilize him. He is a slow scorer against spinners, with a strike rate of just 114 against them since 2023 in T20s. In the same period, his strike rate against pacers is 172. He was properly utilized by Multan, facing only 14 balls of spin in the tournament!

The Abdul Rehman factor probably led to this improved utilization of Iftikhar – he has been his coach elsewhere, too, having won tournaments with him at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In a press conference during the tournament, he also opined that Iftikhar hadn’t been used rightly by other franchise teams.


In that XI, at number 7, there was a vacant place for a spin all-rounder. That place, especially after the playoffs of this PSL, should be filled by Imad Wasim. He recently withdrew his retirement and remains the top contender for the role. Saim’s improved bowling, alongside Iftikhar’s presence, means that Pakistan should have a varied spin attack.

Another option would be to play a pace all-rounder alongside Shadab Khan, the frontline pacers, and the complimentary part-time spin. It is a fantasy of Pakistani pundits to have a fast bowling all-rounder in the XI along with the nostalgia for Imran Khan alongside the likes of Abdul Razzaq and Azhar Mahmood.

The clear two choices are Faheem Ashraf and Aamir Jamal – however, both had average PSL seasons. On ESPNCricinfo’s list of MVPs, Faheem Ashraf was ranked 31st and Aamir Jamal 35th.

Most of Faheem’s performances with the bat came in Rawalpindi. Islamabad won 3/4 games there and Faheem’s first performance there was in their solitary Pindi loss – he made an unbeaten 41* and briefly threatened to pull off a spectacular win but ran out of partners. In the next game, he removed Karachi’s openers and played a brief cameo to take his side home, winning the POTM award. In the last game in Rawalpindi, Faheem had a decent all-round performance with 2 wickets of Rizwan and Charles and also scoring 23 off 14 balls.

Aamir Jamal’s batting can be said to be underutilized, especially if you see his innings against Islamabad United. That innings may rank as one of the best in PSL history despite it coming in a losing cause. However, other than that innings, he didn’t make a significant impact. With the ball, he had one or two spells in which he contributed positively. In the 8 innings he bowled in this PSL, his economy was 9+ in 5. With a career economy nearing 10, he remains a risky option with the ball.

Pakistan could look for alternative options to balance the lineup. With Saim’s improved bowling, he could be relied on as the 6th bowling option, with 3 seamers alongside Shadab & Imad. This would allow Pakistan to field an extra batsman. Alternatively, they could play both Shadab & Imad in the top 7 and field an extra proper bowler alongside the 3 frontline seamers.

There are a couple of series before the T20 World Cup to go through these formations and finalize them.

My Preferred XI

  1. Saim Ayub
  2. Babar Azam
  3. Haris/Abdullah/Agha
  4. Shadab Khan
  5. Azam Khan
  6. Imad Wasim
  7. Iftikhar Ahmed
  8. Jamal/Faheem/specialist bowler
  9. Shaheen Shah Afridi
  10. Naseem Shah
  11. Haris Rauf

The opinions expressed solely belong to the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Grassroots Cricket.

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