PSL 2019: The race to the playoffs heats up - Daily Qudrat Global

PSL 2019: The race to the playoffs heats up

The season four of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) is already three weeks and 22 matches old. If the games in the first leg of Dubai were lacking a certain charm and crowds, Sharjah ensured it injected a new life into the tournament before things moved back to Dubai. The super iconic Sharjah stadium, yet again (in no particular order), produced two last ball sixes to seal the deal for Lahore and Quetta. The fans lived and relived the raw emotions of a joyous and dejected Lahore Qalandars’ owner Fawad Rana, in a span of 24 hours. A forever young Mohammad Sami took a hat-trick, a mad partnership by AB de Villiers and David Wiese, Hasan Ali at his finest, some new and some old faces getting work done for their teams, Colin Ingram going berserk with the bat and the return of Salman Butt are a few stories which became the center of attraction during the Sharjah leg. No, seriously, it isn’t easy getting Mr 360, AB de Villiers’ indescribable shot off Junaid Khan out of one’s system or stop picturing Fawad Rana bowing down after his team chased down a target of 201 on the last ball or a certain Sir Vivian Richards jumping in joy every time his team does good.
The insane AB shot 
It does seem like this season of the PSL has been going on for ages, yet during an off day even the most useful amongst us start feeling useless. Buckle up, there are only 12 more matches to go, and your team needs your support in the stands and outside the stadium. Make sure you cheer them on the internet, defend your team at the workplace, among friends, during a haircut or over a session of chai. If you haven’t been able to follow every game, fear not. Let me quickly recap for you the performances of the six teams so far: According to the points table, Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators are tied at 10 points each, with the Darren Sammy side leading the charts on net run-rate. The PSL 2018 runners-up Zalmi started off their campaign this season with a loss against Quetta. Zalmi then went on to win two back-to-back games, mainly due to their in-form pacer Hassan Ali: he’s miles ahead of the pack with 18 wickets, and precision, pace and the fire to achieve new heights. The last minute induction of Imam ul Haq in the batting department raised an eyebrow or two initially but he’s been more than decent, accumulating 181 runs at a strike-rate of 121. Meanwhile, Wahab Riaz along with taking 10 wickets has also entertained the crowds with his new ‘Undertaker’ inspired celebration. Peshawar’s second loss was against Islamabad. They never looked back and went on to win their next two games in Dubai. Liam Dawson’s quick-fire unbeaten 35-ball 52 including a last ball boundary to help win against Islamabad United was the perfect revenge.
Wahab Riaz's unique celebration style this PSL 
As for Quetta, they also have 5 wins out of 7. Before their 5th match, which also happened to be the last of the matches in Sharjah this season, they seemed invincible but were single-handedly thrashed by a man on a mission, Colin Ingram. They also lost to Lahore Qalandars in an embarrassing fashion as they were bundled out for a meagre 106 in Dubai. But Quetta finished off on a high by beating Multan Sultans in the final match in Dubai this season. Some of the the highlights for Gladiators this season have been Umar Akmal’s comeback and teenager Muhammad Hasnain’s consistent pace. Akmal accumulated 200 runs in the first five matches followed by just one run in the next two games. He has made a strong case for himself to return to the national side by stellar performances in the first two legs but he’ll have to replicate those performances in the rest of the tournament to give the selectors a solid headache. Shane Watson has been a pillar for the Gladiators (226 runs), and their chances to progress beyond the play-offs will depend on Watson’s availability for the Pakistan leg. The young left-arm medium pacer Ghulam Mudassar has also looked promising, Fawad Ahmed aka Bachaji has showed why he’s rated high in the T20 circuit along with the evergreen Sohail Tanvir. Tanvir with 12 scalps is the second highest wicket-taker this year and surprised one and all with his improved fielding. Sarfraz Ahmed and Co would be hoping to remain consistent and eventually go on to lift the trophy this time. The defending champions, Islamabad United with 8 points (4 wins in 8 games) are no.3 on the points tables. In Ramiz Raja’s golden words, they didn’t have to toil hard to open their account against Qalandars on the opening night of the season four. Their star performer from the last season, Luke Ronchi, continued from where he had left. He’s been smashing bowlers all over the park, already has 2 fifties to his name (233 runs at a strike-rate of 163) and this run-machine remains United’s key to defend their title. Teenage pacer Mohammad Musa looks another promising prospect. The likes of Fahim Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Samit Patel and Asif Ali have chipped in on and off. Islamabad have a habit of slowly picking up pace in the PSL, they lost two back to back games in Dubai but just like last year, Sharjah proved to be their lucky charm as they trumped Peshawar and Karachi. And their captain Mohammad Sami registered the 4th hat-trick of PSL. In the second Dubai leg, Asif Ali single-handedly led his team to victory against Karachi Kings. But the bowlers failed to defend 177 against a resilient Peshawar Zalmi. With just two more games left for United, they’d want to win both games to give themselves a chance of finishing in the top two. The arch-rivals Lahore Qalandars and Karachi Kings with three wins and six points each are 4 and 5 on the points table. Nothing new, both teams along with their management and fans haven’t had much to cheer about until AB de Villiers, David Wiese and Colin Ingram single-handedly casted a spell on their oppositions. A spell so powerful not just the PSL fan base but every cricket lover got mesmerised by it.
Sandeep Lamichhane has boosted Lahore Qalandars' bowling since joining PSL 
Colin Ingram closed the Sharjah leg of the Pakistan Super League season 4 with a six. It was his eighth six of the innings, he ended with the highest individual score in PSL and became the first foreign and fourth overall player to score a hundred. A knock of 127 not-out off just 59 balls which helped Karachi Kings register their second victory of the season and how. Lahore would hope against hope that AB de Villiers stays fit. The spin wizard from Nepal, Sandeep Lamichhane (10 wickets), bamboozles more batsmen. While, their speedster, Haris Rauf, keeps on inspiring others with his lethal fast bowling. Shaheen Shah Afridi and Fakhar Zaman need to be at their best as well if Lahore are to qualify for the play-offs. As for the Karachi Kings, their batting just like Lahore’s has been a cause of concern. Before Colin Ingram’s magical hitting, Babar Azam has been the only batsman to have carried the burden of Kings’ batting. There is no rocket science to it, Karachi needs to get their collective act together if they want to qualify for the play-offs. Last but not the least, Multan Sultans are sitting at the bottom of the table: two wins out of eight. A franchise with new owners as well as a few new faces still hasn’t found its mojo. The veteran Shoaib Malik despite being the highest run-getter (240 runs including two fifties) hasn’t been able to inspire his team. Meanwhile, the other experienced T20 campaigner Shahid Afridi is yet to showcase fully what he’s capable of in this format. The management has had issues with finding a winning combination, Sultans are yet to fire as a team. With eight games to go in the league round, all the six franchises have a shot at qualifying for the play-offs with of course a lot of ifs and buts. Let’s hope for the tournament’s sake, we continue to see edge of the seat stuff and the race to the playoffs doesn’t end up being as predictable as the umpiring standards this season and the brand campaigns PSL have been running during the matches.
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