The second edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) produced several thrilling encounters and numerous moments to remember. A month-long of intense contests in the UAE culminated in an emotional final at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
In front of a packed house, Peshawar Zalmi thumped Quetta Gladiators by 58 runs in the summit clash to lift the dazzling trophy. Let us take a look at those players who stood out in the tournament and try to galvanise them into one star-studded team.
#5 – Openers
With their proven ability to rise to the occasion, Kamran Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad take the two opening spots. The wicket-keeper batsman smashed the only century of the tournament. More impressively, that knock came in the qualifying final.
In the all-important title clash, Kamran’s crucial 32-ball 40 paved the way for Peshawar to register a formidable total. During the course of the tournament, he also became the first wicket-keeper to complete 200 dismissals in T20s.
Often evoking criticism for getting into a rut at the start of the innings, Shehzad rotated the strike more efficiently this time around and supplemented those by frequently finding the boundary for Quetta.
Kamran Akmal – 353 runs from 11 matches at an average of 32.09 and strike-rate of 129.30 with 1 century and 2 fifties; 7 catches and 5 stumpings
Ahmed Shehzad – 242 runs from 10 matches at an average of 26.88 and strike-rate of 132.24 with 3 fifties
#4 – Middle-order
Although he opened the innings for Karachi Kings, Babar Azam comes in at number three in this eleven. Showing remarkable consistency, the 22-year old managed to adapt to the tricky pitches in the UAE.
Arriving into the tournament amidst much fanfare, Pietersen had to endure a tough start with ducks in consecutive games raising question marks about his reliability. However, he came into his own in the latter stages with some blistering hitting. His last five games included 4 scores of 40 or above.
Quetta badly missed his presence in the final at Lahore. The former England star adds dynamism and experience in the middle-order.
Babar Azam – 291 runs from 10 matches at an average of 32.33 and strike-rate of 112.35 with 1 fifty
Kevin Pietersen – 241 runs from 9 matches at an average of 34.42 and strike-rate of 151.57 with 2 fifties
#3 – Finishers
A major reason behind Quetta's strong start to the tournament, Rilee Rossouw‘s average of 42.50 is by far the highest among those with at least 200 runs. The southpaw’s capacity to finish the innings was evident from his successive fifty-plus knocks in Dubai.
Usually an attacking top-order batsman in the shortest format, Watson batted around number five and six for Islamabad United. Aside from adding explosiveness at the end of the innings, he was quite handy with the ball as well in an otherwise forgettable campaign for Misbah-ul-Haq’s team.
Rilee Rossouw – 255 runs from 9 matches at an average of 42.50 and strike-rate of 123.18 with 2 fifties
Shane Watson – 171 runs from 9 matches at an average of 21.37 and strike-rate of 139.02; 10 wickets at an average of 20.90 and economy-rate of 9.08
#2 – Spinners
A surprise all round package for Lahore Qalandars, Sunil Narine hammered as many as 11 sixes in the tournament. In his strongest suit, the mystery spinner with a remodeled action continued to be a tough proposition for the opposition batsmen.
Even though the likes of Mohammad Nawaz, Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan all picked up more wickets than him, Imad Wasim gets the nod due to his economic spells in the middle-overs for Karachi Kings. An useful striker of the ball at the death overs, the wily Swansea-born cricketer also makes for a genuine captaincy candidate.
Sunil Narine – 116 runs from 8 matches at an average of 19.33 and strike-rate of 181.25; 10 wickets at an average of 20.70 and economy-rate of 6.46
Imad Wasim – 83 runs from 10 matches at an average of 20.75 and strike-rate of 133.87; 8 wickets at an average of 23.87 and economy-rate of 6.58
#1 – Fast bowlers
Despite having to bowl on sluggish pitches in the Middle East, the top three wicket-takers in the tournament were all fast bowlers. While Wahab Riaz‘s searing pace propelled Peshwar to the title, Sohail Khan’s penchant for striking regularly shored up Karachi’s attack.
Islamabad’s Rumman Raees lit up this season with his deceptive bowling and interesting celebrations.
Wahab Riaz – 15 wickets from 10 matches at an average of 13.53 and economy-rate of 6.15
Sohail Khan – 16 wickets from 9 matches at an average of 15.00 and economy-rate of 7.61
Rumman Raees – 12 wickets from 7 matches at an average of 13.50 and economy-rate of 6.19
Playing XI: Kamran Akmal (wk), Ahmed Shehzad, Babar Azam, Kevin Pietersen, Rilee Rossouw, Shane Watson, Sunil Narine, Imad Wasim (c), Wahab Riaz, Sohail Khan and Rumman Raees