PSL went into bonkers mode last week. In our previous piece, covering the proceedings at the league, we mentioned the batters enjoying a honeymoon period, with the average first innings score hovering around the 190-mark. Well, things have gone a little more out of control. The average first innings score has escalated to 220 in the last eight games of the league stage. And it was nowhere near the safe score. 240+ has been chased down twice. We have seen five hundreds in these eight matches. It is T20 batting on steroids.
Having said that, the four playoff spots have been finalized. Lahore Qalandars and Multan Sultans will clash in Qualifier 1 on Wednesday (March 15). Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi, third and fourth in the points table, will face-off in the Eliminator. The play-off fixtures are the same as last time. This means that Karachi Kings and Quetta Gladiators have missed out for the second time in a row. In this space, we recap the madness of PSL 2023's last week of the league stage.
The gigantic scores
Let’s elaborate on the gigantic scores further. 10 of the last 16 innings in PSL have seen a 200-plus score. Peshawar Zalmi scored 240 against Quetta Gladiators in Match 25. They could have scored more if Babar Azam had not slowed down for his hundred, as pointed out by Simon Doull on air.
Babar probably thought that anything above 200 should be enough. You cannot blame him based on the general regulations of the game. However, PSL has breached those regulations this season. Quetta razed down the target with 10 balls to spare, winning the game by four wickets. Jason Roy hammered 145* off 63 balls, the highest individual score in the PSL history.
Two games later, Peshawar put 242 on the board. Yet again, they came second, this time falling to Rilee Rossouw’s blitzkrieg - 121 off 51 deliveries. The left-hander reached his hundred in 41 balls, bettering the record of the fastest PSL hundred by two balls.
Clearly, 240 wasn’t the par score on these Rawalpindi pitches. Put in to bat first in their next game against Quetta, Multan mustered 262 runs on the board. They won by only 9 runs. The tally of 515 runs is the highest in any recognized T20 match. These three games had 86 sixes. The last eight PSL league games had 173 sixes - 21.6 sixes per match.
Roy’s 145* of 63 balls, Rossouw’s 121 off 51 balls, Fakhar Zaman’s 115 off 57 balls, Babar Azam’s 115 off 67 balls.
There were some sublime hundreds in this week of PSL action but it is the 27-year-old Usman Khan who takes the cake. Playing his second match of the season, Usman hammered 120 off, hold your breath, only 43 deliveries.
Usman left everyone baffled with his strokeplay but he himself could hardly believe what he had done. Reaching his half-century, he celebrated as he had already notched up a ton - helmet off and both arms up in the air. It told you he had little expectations of himself, holding an experience of only 18 T20s and two first-class matches walking to the game.
Within half an hour, he rocketed to a 36-ball hundred, breaking Rossouw’s record of the fastest PSL hundred which was set barely 24 hours ago. And Rossouw celebrated it from the boundary ropes with his arms high in the air to complement a beaming smile.
FAHEEM DE VILLIERS !!
Apologies for going overboard with emotions but how else would you describe this shot? Islamabad needed 18 off the last over with Faheem on strike and only two wickets in hand. The left-handed batter had to do it all by himself. What transpired was barely believable.
Faheem first inside-edged the ball on a miscued lap shot millimeters past his off stump for four.
“I don’t think he meant to hit that,” said Waqar Younis on air.
“If he did, he is a genius,” exclaimed Doull.
What Faheem did next ball, he meant it. He went for the same stroke next ball. Mohammad Ilyas bowled it wide. The bowler’s idea was right. He executed it quite well. But Faheem was a step ahead with his improvisation.
He followed the ball and lapped/flicked it over third-man instead. He middled it. He timed it. He found a six in the most unexpected manner. Faheem took Islamabad across the line when their win percentage was less than 5% on the Criclytics meter. Bet AB de Villiers would be proud of that effort. And yes, it was another 200-plus score chased down this season.
It feels almost against the run of play but there is something for the bowlers as well. Multan’s Abbas Afridi bagged a hat-trick in Match 28 when Quetta were trying to chase down a mammoth 262. Quetta had no option other than going after every ball. Afridi used it to his benefit. He induced false shots, mixing his length and pace to fox the batters.
The last wicket was certainly the best. Umar Akmal’s departure sealed the game for his team in the penultimate over itself. Yes, he was quite expensive (economy of 11.75 in his four overs) but no other bowler picked more than two wickets that night, while Afridi notched up a five-for.
Cover Image Credits: Twitter/@thePSLT20