CricViz Analyst Freddie Wilde reviews Karachi Kings’ 2020 Pakistan Super League campaign.
SEASON OVERVIEW: DESERVING QUALIFIERS
Karachi qualified for the Play Offs in second place, one point clear of third. While they were not as dominant as the table-toppers Multan Sultans, Karachi were deserving of their second placed finish. They never quite pulled away from the chasing pack but they were fairly consistent throughout the season – winning three of their first five matches and never losing more than two in a row.
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WHAT WENT WELL?
Karachi won eight of their ten tosses across the season – comfortably the highest toss win percentage of any team. In a league that has historically shown a strong chasing bias winning such a high proportion of tosses is a helpful bonus for any team. Karachi had a pretty good squad and played well throughout the campaign but their luck at the coin toss gave them a fillip.
Karachi were one of the strongest Powerplay batting teams in the league: they successfully combined the second highest run rate with the second highest dismissal rate – returning the second highest average runs per wicket of any team in the phase.
Karachi opened the batting with the complementary pairing of the hard-hitting left-hander Sharjeel Khan and the silky smooth right-handed anchor Babar Azam. This season no opening partnership scored more runs and among those to bat together more than three times only Fakhar Zaman and Chris Lynn averaged more runs per wicket. This opening pair was well reinforced by Alex Hales who had a superb season batting at number three. On the rare occasion when they do lose an early wicket Hales counter-attacked effectively: he was not dismissed once in the first six overs and scored at +3.38 runs per over above expectation in the phase.
Death overs batting
Their batting at the other end of the innings—although not as good as their Powerplay performance—was also impressive. They were one of three teams to score at more than ten runs per over in the last five overs.
Karachi’s decent effort in these overs was the product of contributions from a number of players: Chadwick Walton, Hales and Iftikhar Ahmed were the primary batsmen but lower order players such as Umaid Asif and Imad Wasim also chipped in.
Batting v pace
Karachi’s batting success in the Powerplay and at the death translated into good overall batting numbers against pace: only Lahore Qalandars had a higher average runs per wicket against the quicks than Karachi.
Powerplay economy rate
Karachi’s clear strength with the ball was their Powerplay bowling – and more specifically their Powerplay economy rate. Only Peshawar Zalmi struck less often than Karachi in the first six overs but no team was more frugal than them. Karachi’s economy rate of 7.36 was comfortably the best in the league.
Mohammad Amir in the Powerplay
Karachi’s success in the Powerplay was predicated on the bowling of their attack leader – Mohammad Amir – who was outstanding. His Powerplay economy rate of 5.77 runs per over was the second best of any bowler in the league to deliver at least ten overs in the phase. Amir was not quite as effective outside the Powerplay but he remained Karachi’s best bowler and ultimately their best player across the campaign.
CRICVIZ PROFESSIONAL ANALYSIS
WHAT WENT WRONG?
Batting v spin
Karachi’s weakness with the bat was clear and significant: batting against spin. Generally Karachi’s batsmen were excellent in the Powerplay and good at the death, largely because during these phases they largely faced pace bowling. However, as soon as spin was deployed—and this was largely through the middle overs—they started to struggle. Karachi’s average runs per wicket against spin of 23.78 was the worst in the league.
Karachi’s struggle against spin can’t be attributed to a single player but more broadly to the entire batting order, except perhaps Babar who was the only player to record a positive True Run Rate and True Dismissal Rate against the slower bowlers.
Karachi’s clearest problem with the ball was taking wickets. No team in the league had a higher strike rate than their 21.6. While they were able to keep a lid on the scoring rate in the Powerplay they could not make regular breakthroughs in that phase nor after it.
Only two of Karachi’s bowlers—Aamer Yamin and Arshad Iqbal—had a negative True Strike Rate: i.e. took wickets at a faster rate than we’d expect based on when they bowled.
One of the primary reasons for Karachi’s inability to take wickets was the struggle of their spinners – they were one of three teams whose spinners were very ineffective throughout the campaign, recording a fractionally better than average economy rate but a far worse strike rate.
Despite the pressure built in the Powerplay Karachi’s spin bowlers were not able to force wickets through the middle overs. This is partly a consequence of squad construction: Karachi’s primary spinner Imad is a run-saving bowler, while Umer Khan and Usama Mir are both very inexperienced young bowlers and Iftikhar is only a part-time off spinner. However, these fundamental issues were compounded by the poor form of Imad and left Karachi unable to rely on their slower bowlers for control or breakthroughs.
Problems in one phase can often lead to problems in another and this is what appears to have happened to Karachi. The struggle of their spinners meant teams often entered the death overs with set batsmen and made it very hard for Karachi to keep a lid on their economy rate in the last five overs: they were one of three teams who conceded runs at more than 10 runs per over in the phase.
SEASON SUMMARY: STRONG POWERPLAY & DEATH PERFORMANCES PROPEL KARACHI
Karachi’s team was packed with talent from top to bottom and this is reflected in their second placed finish. However, despite qualifying with relative ease they struggled to pull together complete performances, due largely to their spin issues: facing it and bowling it. Karachi were consistently derailed through the middle overs in both departments and left them heavily reliant on their performances in the other two phases. Thankfully they had the quality to make up loss ground but they made life more difficult than it could have been.
Freddie Wilde is a senior analyst at CricViz. Follow him on Twitter @fwildecricket