CricViz analyst Kieran Parmley looks at the latest action in the Pakistan Super League.
Fakhar Continues Exceptional Campaign
After being put into bat by Multan Sultans, Lahore Qalandars opener Fakhar Zaman walked out and did what he’s done in every game so far in this Pakistan Super League season – survive the Powerplay, and be destructive when doing so. Not only is he the only opener to survive every Powerplay so far, Fakhar’s 185 strike rate inside the opening six overs is dwarfed only by Islamabad United’s crazy opener Paul Stirling, a combination of wicket preservation and Powerplay scoring that is rarely seen in the shorter formats of the game.
Fakhar Zaman’s Powerplay batting against pace has been mightily impressive, the left-hander has adapted well to all lengths and used his crease in doing so – coming down the pitch to 10% of Powerplay deliveries in a ploy to force opposing bowlers to continuously alter their length. This tactic has proved effective, with Fakhar maintaining a strike rate above 180 against full, average and short lengths making him an impossible batter to bowl to in his current form. Fakhar is not just scoring well against pace inside the Powerplay, he’s also taking innings deep and being productive in doing so, maintaining his well established boundary striking against spin but also limiting dot balls – his dot ball percentage of 18% this season is the lowest among PSL batters to score at least 250 runs in a season. The ability to take innings deep arguably plays into the strengths of the Lahore Qalandars middle to lower order with Hafeez, Salt, Brook, Wiese and Rashid all stronger players of pace and therefore more effective towards the backend of the innings, Qalandars could however still maintain this strength while also adding more value up the order, perhaps promoting Salt to take advantage of the Powerplay should an early wicket occur.
Sultan Squeeze, Qalandars Fire at the Death
After finishing on 56-1 at the end of the Powerplay, Lahore Qalandars struggled to maintain a decent scoring rate through the Middle Overs, scoring at just 6.88rpo between Over 7 and 15. Multan Sultan were able to peg them back by bringing on the spinners, who bowled 6 of those 9 overs. Lahore Qalandars have struggled to get going against spin in the Middle Over this season and it’s a clear problem with their gameplan and perhaps recruitment with the bat – their scoring rate of 7.36 rpo is lower than rival top of the table sides Multan Sultans (8.07 rpo) and Islamabad United (9.87 rpo).
This wasn’t the end for Lahore Qalandars though, as Phil Salt and Mohammad Hafeez combined to take 64 runs from the final five overs to take them to a competitive 183-4. The duo faced just three dot balls at the death and cashed in using power and timing through cow corner as the Sultan pace attack decided to go full without reward, conceding 34 from the 15 deliveries pitched up.
Aggressive Lahore Breaks Multan’s Run
Shaheen Shah Afridi’s early days of T20 captaincy have been very interesting to observe, with the international quality of himself, Haris Rauf and Rashid Khan to blend in alongside emerging pacer Zaman Khan and a fifth bowling quota usually taken up by David Wiese.
As ever Shaheen took the new ball, bowling overs 1 & 3 but their was a change to the norm at the other end, with Haris Rauf taking the 2nd over in place of Zaman, who had taken the 2nd over in the previous 5 games – perhaps an early warning sign to the Multan Sultans batting attack of what was to come.
The Qalandars attack managed to pick up the early wicket of Shan Masood and restrict Sultans to 38-1 at the end of the Powerplay – but skipper Shaheen wasn’t satisfied with that and ready to enter the dull middle overs phase and backload his attack towards the death.
After throwing Rashid Khan the ball in the 5th over, Shaheen took the aggressive approach and bowled him out, with Rashid Khan’s final over coming in the 11th over – today being just the 4th time the leg spinner has bowled his full quota so early in a T20 innings. Following the double wicket over of Rizwan and Rossouw and with Tim David striding to the crease, many captains would have removed their premiere spin bowler, who had just one over remaining at this point, but Shaheen is not your standard T20 captain and although Rashid Khan didn’t pick up David’s wicket it was a clear view as to how Shaheen views the game and also shuffles his assets about. With Rashid Khan bowling at one end, Shaheen was able to get through overs of David Wiese at the other, subsequently leaving overs from both himself and Haris Rauf to make up the deficit of Rashid Khan’s absence towards the death.
It may not bring reward every time, as shown so far with the Qalandars results so far in the PSL, but the era of Shaheen’s captaincy in T20 cricket is an exciting one, which brings with it an exciting brand of cricket that many neutrals can get behind.