The seventh edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) is underway. The first phase will be completed in few days as teams have played their first two or three matches. The last phase of the cricket league will be played in Lahore.
So far Multan Sultan, Lahore Qalandar are both the best and strongest teams, while Peshawar Zalmi is also showing its power because of experienced Shoaib Malik and Wahab Riaz. The rest of the teams must have been worried about the blistering performance of Islamabad United in their first match.
Apparently, the weakest team is Karachi Kings who has lost his first three matches. The franchises will try to come back, but now it will have to give more than 100 percent. Quetta’s performance is mixed. Well, there is still a lot left, and with six or seven matches left, anything can happen.
I was thinking that in all these seasons of PSL many interesting things were realized. Some preconceived notions turned out to be wrong and a few new theories emerged. We learned from PSL that big coaches are stubborn, they often stick to their choice and spend many years correcting mistakes.
Aqib Javed is a great player and a regular professional coach. He is part of Lahore Qalandar since the beginning. Not only the head coach but he also made all the plans regarding franchise’s high performing center. Aqib Javed made some strange decisions regarding Qalandars and persisted in them. Like in the last two or three seasons, Lahore’s captain was the player who has not played a single international match.
He made Sohail Akhtar the captain and he was leading Muhammad Hafeez, Fakhar Zaman and many other players of the national team. Why should a player who is not considered worthy of being included in any national level category be given the leadership of the team? How can such a captain make big decisions with confidence? The management of Lahore Qalandar and his head coach insisted on this decision.
This time, however, Shaheen Shah Afridi was appointed the captain in place of Sohail Akhtar. The funny thing is that Akhtar is no longer in the team. Shaheen is still young, he does not have enough experience to make wise decisions in difficult times. He has never captained at the domestic level, not even in the Under-19.
The young fast bowler has been put under a lot of pressure. Shaheen Shah’s future father-in-law and his idol Shahid Afridi had advised him not to take the captaincy. However, the left-arm pacer took the crown. Let’s see what happens?
Karachi Kings, too, has been making such decisions. Imad Wasim was their captain for many years, but last time Babar Azam could have been given this responsibility as he had become the captain of the national team. Despite this, Kings preferred Imad and Babar, being a humble man, continued to play quietly as a normal player and also performed for his team.
Unfortunately, this time Babar Azam is the captain, the team is in such a bad shape, the combination is not being formed, very weak bowling line up and equally weak middle order. At the moment, it seems that Babar Azam is under pressure. So many great players are part of Karachi coaching staff, the owners themselves are cricket lovers, yet no one could stop the captain from making wrong decisions.
Imad Wasim as a captain destroyed a good spinner Umar Khan by not giving proper bowling spell to the latter, who was taking wickets of big players. Imad’s same attitude was with Mohammad Rizwan. He had become the wicket keeper of the national team, but Imad excluded him from the team.
Rizwan was released due to blunder of Karachi King’s management, Multan Sultan picked him and he made the team champion by showing extraordinary play. Another thing I don’t understand is why many young players play very well in domestic tournaments, why they are not included in PSL.
Many young players who do very good power-hitting are not included in the domestic circuit and later the teams lose the match due to these weaknesses. This time, thankfully, Lahore Qalandars included Kamran Ghulam, who performed very well in the domestic T20 tournament. Despite this, three other young players who performed in the same tournament were not selected.
We have also witnessed that sometimes big names fail miserably. In the early seasons, Karachi King lost badly despite its heavy squad and big players. The Quetta team was relatively weak and less expensive, but it performed very well. Quetta also had the advantage that some retired players continued to perform exceptionally while playing for them.
It is also ironic that on the one hand there is the Lahore Qalandars which has set up its own High Performance Center and found young talents. In contrast, the five teams: Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Islamabad and Multan do nothing. These franchises should do something for the coaching of young players so that local cricket can benefit.
In different seasons of PSL we have seen that some teams try to run conjecture instead of systematic planning to win. Sometimes they rely so much on particular two or three players that if they get injured, the team loses the match. Islamabad always gambles on its openers. If its openers perform well then the team wins and vice versa.
Rashid Khan is Lahore’s main bowler this year too. Despite the importance of spinners, team management does not bother to develop its own local spin attack. If good talented players are recruited from the local circuit or a charismatic player is discovered, then the franchise will get the benefit.