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PSL 2022: A season of nerve-wracking cricket

Last updated on 26 Feb 2022 | 06:29 PM
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PSL 2022: A season of nerve-wracking cricket

Hundreds, close finishes, heart-warming gestures, this season of PSL has had everything you demand from an entertaining T20 league

Pakistan cricket is never short of entertainment. The seventh edition of the Pakistan Super League emphasised the same. Except Karachi Kings, which lost nine out of their 10 league games, each team added great value to PSL 2022. Quetta Gladiators were the other team to miss out on the play-offs but only on the net run-rate. Peshawar Zalmi lost the first eliminator but stormed into the top four with a late surge, winning each of their last four league matches. 

Sandwiched in between Peshawar and Quetta were Islamabad. Struck by several injury blows and the unavailability of the overseas players, they hobbled into the play-offs. Placed fourth on the points table, they were probably one of the top three teams of the tournament.

They provided great entertainment, underlined by Paul Stirling and Alex Hales - an opening duo with over 15000 T20 runs between them. They accentuated Shadab Khan, the all-rounder, a contender for the Player of the Tournament award. 

It was their relentless attitude that engineered two of the most memorable play-off games in the league’s history. The two eliminators, that led to contrasting outcomes for Islamabad, were adorned with breathtakingly bold, yet logic-defying cricket at times. 

You couldn’t have asked for a better build-up for the final - between Multan Sultans and Lahore Qalandars. One side is the defending champions, the other, often subjected to social media trolling, are aiming at their maiden trophy. 

Multan have been both the best batting and bowling side of the tournament. With Mohammad Rizwan, Shan Masood, Tim David and Rillee Rossouw, they are miles ahead of anyone else on the batting charts. However, the distance isn’t as wide on the bowling front. Covering all the bases, Lahore are quite close to Multan. Hence, it will be a battle between Multan’s batting and Lahore’s bowling. Not to forget, Lahore are the only side to beat Multan this season. 

As mouth-watering as this clash is, it is the last game of the season. Every good thing has to come to an end. The best way is to recall the reasons that made it good. In this space, we will do exactly that: recollecting the fun moments of PSL 2022. 

Close finishes

None of the two eliminators were for the faint hearted. While Islamabad bottled the second eliminator right at the end, the pendulum swung continuously in the first one. A yorker masterclass from Salman Irshad revived Peshawar. Islamabad stretched it to the last over.

Benny Howell, a replacement player, was playing his first game of the season and found himself with the onus to defend 10 runs in the final over. He started well, dismissing Azam Khan off the first ball. 

If you think the batting side were under pressure, logically you are right but Liam Dawson defied everyone. He smacked the first ball for six with such nonchalance as if he read in the morning newspaper which indicated where Howell will bowl to him. He lapped the next ball for four. Dawson’s two-ball cameo took Islamabad over the finish line. 

Sticking to Islamabad, they turned another game on its head in the final over. This time with the ball, Waqas Maqsood defended 8 runs in the final over. 75 runs were scored in the preceding five overs. The momentum was with Karachi. However, Maqsood displayed his impeccable control and variations in the final over, snatching a 1-run victory. He picked two wickets excluding a last ball run out that had the whole side jumping in joy. 

In Match 7, Tim David showed nerves of steel at the ropes. Needing 7 from two balls, Quetta’s Naseem Shah swung the bat with all his might. The connection wasn’t the best but Naseem seemed to have managed just enough. Unfortunately, and kudos to Mohammad Rizwan for placing the right fielder, he found the only man that could have taken the catch there. 

David, the tallest man in Multan’s XI that night, took a fantastic catch at deep mid-wicket. We have seen a lot of self-relay acts at the boundary ropes but not many with the match on the line.

Shaheen’s day out with the bat 

This is another close finish but it is so unbelievable, it deserved a sub-heading of its own. The Lahore skipper, Shaheen Shah justified his last name ‘Afridi’ in the most exuberant style possible. 

24 were required in the last over. Shaheen batted through, rejected a single off the penultimate ball and thumped the last ball for a six to tie the game. It was the last league game of the season. It was inconsequential. And it was decided with a Super Over. Peshawar eventually won it easily in the end. But the highlight of the match was Shaheen’s batting. 

Which hundred is your favorite? 

Three hundreds have been scored this season. Fakhar Zaman (106) scored the first, leading Lahore to a successful run chase against Karachi. In the second century instance, Lahore were at the receiving end as Jason Roy announced himself with a feisty 116 off 57 balls. The six to reach the three-figure mark and the standing ovation from the dugout speaks for the authority in his knock. Quetta chased down 205 comfortably.

Harry Brook’s unbeaten 102 wasn’t the highest score of the season. But it was arguably the best century among the three. Unlike Fakhar and Roy, he wasn’t opening the innings but batting at five. He walked out to bat at 12/3 and ushered Lahore to the match-winning total of 197, reaching his ton in only 49 balls. The strokeplay vouches for the quality of his innings.  

Irshad’s yorker masterclass 

Lasith Malinga has shown that negating yorkers from a slingy action is a tough prospect. Salman Irshad showed his belief in the theory when he went through Alex Hales and Asif Ali’s defence within three deliveries. The spell brought Peshawar back in the contest before the aforementioned final over twist. 

The gestures 

In an amusing gesture, Azam Khan folded his hands together looking at the Quetta dressing room to celebrate his fifty in Match 10. Quetta was his first team in the PSL and he was traded to Islamabad prior to this season. Also, the Quetta support staff marked the presence of his father Moin Khan.

Last but not the least, Lahore gave their MVP, Rashid Khan a heart-warming send-off. As Rashid had to leave for national duty, the Lahore players assembled to give the leg-spinner a guard of honour. 

Rashid picked 2/19 as he signed off from the tournament on a winning note. 

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