CricViz analyst Kieran Parmley takes a look at the latest action in the Pakistan Super League.
Lack of Balance for Gladiators
If there was one big tick you could give Quetta Gladiators this season it would be their strength when facing pace bowling – scoring at 9.94 runs per over against the quicks, the fastest scoring team in the league while also maintaining the highest batting average at 36 runs per dismissal. The combination of Jason Roy and Will Smeed or Ahsan Ali at the top of the order, as well as local batters Iftikhar Ahmed and Mohammad Nawaz towards the death overs had the potential to be a troublesome batting unit to contain this season with so many power hitters against pace at both end of the batting innings – the problem however was the lack of filling between those two areas of strength.
Quetta Gladiators scored at just 6.63 runs per over against spin this season, the second slowest in the league; combining this low scoring rate with a lack of wicket preservation too, losing a wicket every 13 balls against spin.
When it came to originally drafting their side, Ben Duckett was the clear man to pencil in for this ‘spin protector’ job for Quetta Gladiators, a left-handed batter to complement a team of right-handers and one of very few in the squad with a positive Batting Impact when facing spin, sitting at +2.3 since the start of 2020 – he was given just four games to make his mark before dropping to the bench.
Instead of persisting with Ben Duckett despite his clear value in a specific role in this side, Quetta Gladiators elected to continue with their premium pickup during the off-season, James Vince. There’s no denying that James Vince has value as a T20 batter, his exploits elsewhere for Southern Brave and Sydney Sixers will tell you as much but the Englishman has really struggled when it comes to playing in the Pakistan Super League – his batting impact of -2.8 is the lowest for any batter to play at least 20 PSL innings.
This season, Vince’s numbers are even lower with an Average Batting Impact of -5.8 across 6 innings – a small sample size albeit but considering his previous struggles it’s hard to put this down to variance, these are simply poor returns from a player who Quetta Gladiators traded for and gave one of their three ‘Platinum’ player salaries to.
Naseem Shah – A One Man Attack
19-year-old Naseem Shah had an exceptional Pakistan Super League capaign, picking up 14 wickets with an 8.01 economy rate as the leader of the Quetta Gladiators attack. Naseem’s splits across the innings were even more impressive, picking up 5 wickets inside the Powerplay and conceding at just 8.62 runs per over at the death – the only player to better those figures is Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Despite Naseem Shah’s performance, the rest of the Quetta Gladiators bowlers were ineffective with the ball. Mohammad Nawaz was the only bowler to play more than two matches and keep their Bowling Impact positive – the fact Naseem had such a good campaign is a testament to his talent, the young quick is all but guaranteed to be on the plane for the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia later this year and more than likely in their starting XI for the first match.
When it comes to assessing the remaining Quetta Gladiators bowlers, questions once again have to be asked about recruitment and selection. James Faulkner, another one of those drafted early on by Quetta Gladiators, leaked 9.80 runs per over in his six games before leaving in controversial circumstances. The experienced Sohail Tanvir picked up a measly 2 wickets in his 7 games with an economy rate of 9.92 – perhaps suggesting the once great left-arm new ball quick is perhaps no longer at the level required in the Pakistan Super League. The final major blunder was with regards to their emerging player spot, for which there wasn’t a permanent option. Ghulam Mudassar eventually held down the spot for 5 games and leaked at 11.35 runs per over. The absence of Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz and Shahid Adridi for parts of the seas was clearly an issue but even so, Quetta Gladiators didn’t have capable support players to complement Naseem Shah and form a competent bowling unit.
Circumstances haven’t been the best for Quetta Gladiators in this Pakistan Super League season but they certainly haven’t made things easy for themselves with both draft and in-season player selection.