One T20 league after the other. The latest Big Bash season ended on February 4. The inaugural for both SA20 and ILT20 was capped off on February 12. And the 2023 PSL began the very next day.
Known for its raw emotions and entertainment, the league has lived up to the expectations in the first ten league games. Like the previous season, Multan Sultans are at the top of the table. Quetta Gladiators are struggling. Mohammad Rizwan is the top-scorer. But amidst all these normal occurrences, a lot of exciting things have definitely taken place.
The perfect start
What is the perfect way to start a season? Unless you have a Brendon McCullum smashing 158 to kick off the tournament, you would prefer a last ball thriller. That is precisely what we saw in the opening fixture between Multan and Lahore Qalandars. The match went to the final over where Multan needed 15 runs with Kieron Pollard and Khushdil Shah in the middle.
However, Multan lost three wickets in the over bowled by Zaman Khan, two of which were run outs. Shah managed a four each off the last two balls but Multan fell short, suffering a 1-run defeat. It was a thrilling comeback from Lahore after Multan were 100/0 in 12.1 overs while chasing 175.
Coincidentally, the margin in the second match was two runs.
The big partnership
The second game was as astonishing as the first. Chasing 200 against Peshawar Zalmi, Karachi Kings were down and out and 46/4 in 6.1 overs. Their back was against the wall and that is when the experienced duo turned the tables. Imad Wasim and Shoaib Malik forged one of the best T20 partnerships you will ever see. They added 131 off 74 balls, with the run-rate in the partnership well over 10 runs per over.
By the time Malik was dismissed for 52 off 34, Karachi needed 23 off 10 deliveries. The equation further went to 16 off the final over. With Wasim well set and Ben Cutting in the middle, the odds were stacked in favor of the batting side. But this was the turn of Khurram Shahzad to do a Zaman Khan from last night. He allowed only 7 runs off his first five deliveries. Wasim smacked the final ball for a maximum to finish unbeaten at 80 off 47. Peshawar won by 2 runs but it was an admirable comeback from Karachi on the back of their veterans.
2022 was a tough year for Martin Guptill. He lost his place in the New Zealand side and his contract further was not renewed. He suffered a number of lean scores in the tournament he played thereafter, scoring only 165 runs in the 2022/23 Big Bash season, averaging 15 at a strike-rate of 107.1. However, the 36-year showed a glimpse of his best for Quetta, in his second match of the season and that too when everyone else around him fell like ninepins.
In Match 6 against Karachi, Quetta were 23/4 in 6.1 overs. Guptill was their only hope, even when his recent record instilled little confidence. But he found a way out this time. Batting till the end, Guptill mustered 117 runs off 67 balls (12 fours and five sixes), notching up his first T20 ton since 2018.
His hundred elevated Quetta from 23/4 to 168/7. That is nearly 70% of the team total. In the 19th over itself, Guptill hammered 30 runs. 4 6 4 6 6 4 is how the over panned out.
Guptill’s heroics compounded one of the most famous come-from-behind-victories in the PSL history as Quetta went on to defend the total by 6 runs.
Ihsanullah the new star
T20 leagues are all about unearthing new stars and Multan’s Ihsanullah is probably the latest entry to the list. This is only his second PSL season and in four matches, the 20-year old has figures of 2/37, 5/12, 3/24, 2/19.
Known for express pace and bounce, the right-arm seamer has also shown accuracy, averaging only 7.7 runs per wicket for his 12 scalps, the most in the tournament as yet. His economy is also under 6 - 5.9 runs per over. Furthermore, he bowled one of the deliveries of the tournament thus far, a 150kmph thunderbolt castling Sarfaraz Ahmed.
His 5/12 flattened Quetta in Match 3 where Multan romped to a 9-wicket win.
Shaheen Shah is here
From a newbie breathing fire to an established beast, this PSL season marks the return of Shaheen Shah Afridi after his knee injury during the T20 World Cup in November last year. He bided his time, returning figures of 1/27 and 1/39 in the first two games. But ask Abdul Bangalzai and the experienced overseas pair of Guptill and Jason Roy facing him in Match 10 on Tuesday (February 21).
The left-arm pacer was back in his element, swinging the new ball at lethal pace and tight angles. The 19-year old Bangalzai was lbw first ball, as you can see in the tweet above. Roy and Guptill batted for survival. They were successful but never comfortable and Roy was even floored by one of the inswinging yorkers from Afridi.
He finished his first spell at 2-0-11-1 and later returned to finish at 4-0-22-3. The captain led from the front, won the player-of-the-match award and Lahore moved from fifth spot in the points table to the second.
Cover Image Credits: Twitter/@thePSLT20
Shaheen Shah Afridi - On the path to cricketing royalty
Bastab K Parida
Mammoth scores and hundreds galore in PSL 2023
PSL 2023 Round-Up: first over wickets, the big scores & Babar's mixed fortunes
PSL 2022: A season of nerve-wracking cricket
PSL Round-up: A win for battered Karachi, Brook's historic ton and a tie in the dead rubber
PSL Round-up: Chase masters Quetta, Roy's grand entrance and Karachi's winless rut
Multan's highest chase in PSL, Fakhar hits the first hundred and more
Pakistan Super League: Teams Preview
Rahul-Rohit hoist India’s best partnership in WC after Guptill became the first to 150 sixes