CricViz Analyst Freddie Wilde reviews Islamabad United’s 2020 Pakistan Super League campaign.
SEASON OVERVIEW: DISAPPOINTING CAMPAIGN
This was a disappointing season for Islamabad United who failed to qualify for the Play Off stage for the first time, finishing bottom of the league table. Islamabad had a decent start to the season – winning two of their first three matches. However, they then only one won more of their remaining seven matches – with one being lost to rain.
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WHAT WENT WELL?
Powerplay & Middle Overs Batting
Islamabad were one of the strongest batting teams in the PSL this season. Their run rate of 8.71 runs per over was the highest in the league and although their dismissal rate of 19.8 was the fourth best they were generally able to cope with this due to good batting depth.
Islamabad’s success with the bat was expected: before Dale Steyn was available they picked four overseas batsmen in their XI with Luke Ronchi, Colin Munro, Dawid Malan and Colin Ingram giving them arguably the most explosive top order in the league. All four contributed while Shadab Khan’s exceptional season with the bat bolstered them further.
Islamabad’s batting was particularly excellent for the first two phases of the innings: the Powerplay and the Middle Overs, where their overseas batsmen and Shadab saw them score at a rapid rate whilst maintaining a solid, albeit not elite, dismissal rate.
Islamabad were particularly brilliant against spin, which informed their success in these first two phases of the innings. They were one of only two teams (along with Peshawar Zalmi) who scored at more than 9 runs per over and averaged more than 40 runs per wicket against spin.
Shadab’s promotion up the order
This was a breakthrough season with the bat for Shadab who scored 263 runs at a True Run Rate of +2.10. Before this season Shadab had played 88% of his innings for Islamabad outside the top four; this season he played six of his nine innings at three or four.
Shadab’s good form with the bat reduced Islamabad’s reliance on their overseas batsmen—which was fortunate given while all of them contributed, none of their were exceptional. Shadab turned a strong top four into a strong top five.
The left-arm spinners
Islamabad’s two best bowlers this season were the left-arm spinners Zafar Gohar and Ahmed Safi. Both only played three matches each but they returned exceptional figures. Gohar took five wickets and Safi took four – both returned negative True Strike Rates and Gohar also logged a very negative True Economy Rate.
CricViz fielding analysis suggests that Islamabad United’s fielding saved 15 runs across the season – the second most among all teams and making them one of only two teams with a positive fielding impact across the season.
CRICVIZ PROFESSIONAL ANALYSIS
WHAT WENT WRONG?
Islamabad were particularly unlucky this season: they only won two of their nine tosses – the lowest proportion by any team in the league. Islamabad were also twice on the wrong end of rain-affected matches: first rain intervened in Peshawar’s chase of 196 when they were seven runs ahead on Duckworth Lewis Stern and then they were asked to bat first in a nine overs-per-side match against Multan.
Islamabad’s clearest weakness this season was their bowling attack – and more specifically their pace bowling attack. At the draft Islamabad appeared to recognise they had a problem with their domestic bowlers because they used their first pick of the draft on Steyn. However, Steyn was only available for four of Islamabad’s matches and when he did play he was underwhelming. This exposed Islamabad’s domestic pace bowlers: only Lahore Qalandars’ domestic quicks returned a higher average and Islamabad were in a trailing pack of three well behind the leaders by this measure.
The young pair of Musa Khan and Akif Javed performed okay: both recorded positive True Economy Rates but this was the norm in a very high scoring season, while their True Strike Rates were fractionally negative. More disappointing were the performances of the experienced trio of Rumman Raees, Faheem Ashraf and Steyn. The latter two in particular – Faheem in terms of economy rate and Steyn in terms of strike rate – really struggled.
The domestic spinners Gohar, Safi and to a lesser extent Shadab somewhat masked Islamabad’s bowling issues but not sufficiently. Their relative spin success is evident in the fact that Islamabad’s bowling struggled most in the Powerplay and at the death.
Death overs batting
With Islamabad’s bowling so fragile their batting needed to perform perfectly to put enough runs on the board to keep them in matches. As we identified above, for the first 15 overs of the innings they were superb: the overseas batsmen and Shadab generally laid excellent foundations for the lower order to push them up towards big scores of towards 200. However, too regularly Islamabad failed to maintain their batting performance into the death overs. Despite having arguably the best platform of all the teams in the league Islamabad’s death overs run rate of 9.58 was the fourth best in the league.
Faheem Ashraf & Asif Ali’s form
A big reason for Islamabad’s two major shortcomings: domestic pace bowling and death overs batting was the form of Faheem and Asif Ali who had very poor seasons. Both players have been integral to Islamabad’s success in recent years but this year they arguably recorded their poorest PSL campaigns to date.
SEASON SUMMARY: DOMESTIC BOWLING LET UNITED DOWN
Islamabad doubled down on the popular batting-heavy overseas balance that is often evident in the PSL, however, this balance only works because teams can rely on their domestic quick bowlers but this season Islamabad could not and it cost them. Their batting was unable to clear the very high bar that their weaker bowling demanded of them.
Freddie Wilde is a senior analyst at CricViz. Follow him on Twitter @fwildecricket