CricViz Analyst Freddie Wilde reviews Peshawar Zalmi’s 2020 Pakistan Super League campaign.
SEASON OVERVIEW: TUMULTUOUS SEASON
This was a tumultuous season for Peshawar Zalmi on and off the pitch. Zalmi struggled for consistency in terms of results and performances and saw a major restructuring of their management group half way through the season with Darren Sammy being elevated from captain to head coach. Ultimately, despite off field turmoil and major issues around overseas player availability, they managed to sneak into the top four but only on Net Run Rate.
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WHAT WENT WELL?
Batting in the middle overs
Peshawar Zalmi were the league’s standout team when batting in the middle overs this season. Only Karachi lost wickets less often and only Islamabad scored faster. Peshawar’s average of 33.63 runs per wicket in overs 7 to 15 was the highest of all teams.
Batting v spin
Peshawar’s strength in the middle overs was founded on their brilliance against spin. Their average of 43.11 against the slower bowlers was the highest of all teams.
Pakistani batting core
Peshawar’s strength through the middle overs and against spin was thanks to the performances of their Pakistani core, the trio of Kamran Akmal, Haider Ali and Shoaib Malik. Together these three players registered 729 runs across the season: Kamran and Haider scored quickly while Malik anchored.
Building a strong domestic batting core in the PSL is difficult due to the short supply of domestic batting talent but with these three Zalmi are closer to any team to achieving one.
Death overs economy rate
Peshawar’s primary strength with the ball was their death bowling. Only table-toppers Multan recorded a better economy rate in the last five overs than Peshawar.
Peshawar’s brilliance at the death was thanks largely to Wahab Riaz who had another outstanding season. Wahab’s death overs economy rate of 6.22 was the second best of any bowler in the league to deliver five overs in the phase and was significantly better than the third ranked bowler.
CRICVIZ PROFESSIONAL ANALYSIS
WHAT WENT WRONG?
Selection & Role Instability
The selections and strategies adopted by Peshawar Zalmi made their season more difficult. They appeared to misunderstand the complexity and volatility of the roles performed by the likes of Tom Banton and Lewis Gregory with both players moving up and down the order and coming in and out of the team. Admittedly, Banton did struggle for form at the top of the order but the nature of his role as an aggressive opener is likely to produce high variance results and it didn’t seem as if the management understood this. Curiously, on a number of occasions Peshawar only picked three overseas players, leaving the likes of Liam Dawson out of the side.
Zalmi’s overseas problems were complicated further by Kieron Pollard’s withdrawal from the tournament. Pollard is one of the greatest T20 players of all time and would’ve brought considerable quality and experience to the side.
Losing regular wickets
Peshawar Zalmi’s batting was marked by their loss of regular wickets. No team in the league had a lower balls per wicket than Zalmi’s 15.5.
Powerplay and death overs batting
As we identified, Peshawar were excellent in the middle overs, thanks largely to their prowess against spin. The opposite is true of their Powerplay and death overs batting, due largely to their struggles against pace. In the Powerplay Zalmi’s balls per wicket of 16.2 was the worst in the league – so bad in fact that despite their healthy run rate their average runs per wicket of 23.05 was also the league’s worst.
After typically recovering through the middle overs Zalmi fell away again at the death. Their run rate in the last five overs of the innings of 9.00 runs per over was the second worst of all teams.
Poor contributions from overseas batsmen
Peshawar’s poor Powerplay and death overs batting was largely the product of the struggles of their overseas batsmen. Although their task was made more difficult by their mismanagement, none of Peshawar’s overseas players contributed consistent performances. Banton struggled bady at the top while Dawson and Sammy did at the death. Livingstone and Gregory were okay but Peshawar needed more from their overseas players than they got. In total, Zalmi’s overseas players scored 367 runs across the campaign – comfortably the smallest contribution for any team.
Peshawar Zalmi’s fundamental issue with the ball was a lack of potency: only Karachi had a higher strike rate than Peshawar, and – along with Karachi – they were one of only two teams to record a positive True Strike Rate, indicating that they took wickets less often than expected.
Peshawar were particularly bad at taking wickets in the Powerplay. No team had a higher Powerplay strike rate than their 27.0 balls per wicket.
After struggling to make early breakthroughs Peshawar’s bowling issues were compounded by their lack of quality spinners to pull things back through the middle overs. No team’s spinners had a worse record than Peshawar’s who averaged 59.60 runs per wicket – by a long way the worst of all teams.
Peshawar’s spin struggles were primarily a result of squad construction. In their initial squad Dawson was the only frontline spinner with Malik offering part-time support. Yasir Shah was only drafted in as a replacement player.
Hasan Ali and Rahat Ali’s form
A key reason for Peshawar’s bowling woes was the form of Hasan Ali and Rahat Ali – both bowlers recorded positive True Economy Rates and True Strike Rates. Their struggles placed too much responsibility on Wahab and the rest of the attack, which was made up of inexperienced players and part-time bowlers.
SEASON SUMMARY: CARRIED BY PAKISTANI CORE
Peshawar snuck into the top four thanks almost entirely to performances from four Pakistanis: Kamran, Haider, Malik and Wahab. Their overseas players performed badly and were poorly managed and such a large chunk of the team misfiring made it very difficult for Zalmi to string complete performances together. Ultimately their batting had enough depth to withstand the ups and downs in form but the same could not be said for their bowling attack which was badly hurt by the underperformance of Hasan and Rahat in particular and the absence of a quality spinner.
Freddie Wilde is a senior analyst at CricViz. Follow him on Twitter @fwildecricket