Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the fifth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) continues to hurtle towards its conclusion.
Being held entirely in Pakistan for the first time in the competition’s history, the ongoing edition has proven to be a huge hit with packed stands greeting the teams in the cities of Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan.
While the T20 league has clearly been a success off the pitch, the action on the pitch has been equally enthralling and gripping.
It has been a tournament of many surprises with Multan Sultans topping the league on the way to their maiden play-off qualification. Two-time champions Islamabad United have failed to reach the play-offs for the first time in history, while three-time finalists and defending champions Quetta Gladiators have been dealt the same cards.
Meanwhile, perennial underperformers Lahore Qalandars have scripted a dramatic turnaround in the second half to sneak into the play-offs for the first time in five attempts.
For Pakistan fans in particular, PSL 5 has been a rewarding one with several youngsters putting their hands up with notable displays. Unsurprisingly though, most of these displays have come with the ball.
Shaheen Afridi’s stock continues to rise with the teenager leading Lahore’s charge by scalping 13 wickets at an economy-rate of just 7.02. Only fellow 19-year-old pacer Mohammad Hasnain has claimed more dismissals than Afridi, with the Quetta man topping the charts with 15 wickets. Despite Islamabad’s misfortunes, skipper Shadab Khan has emerged with his all-round reputation enhanced after racking up 263 runs at an average of nearly 38 and a strike-rate of over 159. The 21-year-old has been pretty handy with the ball as well, with his leg-spin accounting for eight dismissals.
Haider Ali is outrageously good. It’s all happening very quickly, but you’d be shocked if he didn’t