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8 standout performers from PSL 2018

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Pakistan_Cricket_home_LahoreThe third season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) was a resounding success and ended in a thrilling finish as Islamabad United clinched the coveted title for the second time in three years.

Throughout the five weeks of the third season, we got to see some truly exceptional performances light up the tournament. Youngsters made a distinct impression and experienced players continued to show that they still had it in them.

Here is a look, at eight standout performers of PSL 2018.

Luke Ronchi (Islamabad United):

If there is one thing that the PSL has shown, it’s that in T20 cricket age is just a number. Luke Ronchi, the 36-year-old New Zealand wicket-keeper batsman, was a complete revelation in the tournament and ended as the leading run-scorer of the season.

Making his PSL debut, he was a vital part of Islamabad United at the top of the order and amassed 435 runs in 11 matches, with 5 fifties at an incredible strike-rate of 182. While Ronchi began a tad sedately, he came onto his own with a sparkling 37-ball 71 against Karachi Kings.

After that performance he became unstoppable and ended with a stunning 26-ball 52 in the final that earned him the Man-of-the-Match award while also sealing his Man-of-the-Series trophy. Ronchi also had the best run-rate – 11.43 – in the Powerplays in this season.

Kamran Akmal (Peshawar Zalmi):

PSL 2018 turned out to be a momentous one for Kamran Akmal. The Peshawar Zalmi batsman was the second-highest run-scorer of the season despite having three ducks. He went on to accumulate 425 runs in 13 matches with one hundred and five fifties at a strike-rate of 153.42.

As the opener, Kamran was instrumental in getting Peshawar off to brisk starts and all his fifty-plus scores came at crucial stages in the tournament. His most notable efforts were the incredible unbeaten 107 off 61 balls – the only hundred of PSL 2018 – in a vital match against Lahore Qalandars and the sensational 77 off 27 balls – which, off 17 balls, was the fastest PSL half-century – versus Karachi Kings.

The wicket-keeper batsman has been trying to prove his mettle after being dropped by the Pakistan national team and this performance would certainly come as a shot in the arm.

Babar Azam (Karachi Kings):

Babar Azam has been one of the finest batting products to have emerged from Pakistan in recent times, at least in the limited overs format. He proved this once again by being one of only three batsmen to score over 400 runs.

A model of consistency, the 23-year-old batsman was the batting mainstay for the Karachi Kings. He fared equally well against pace and spin and constructed his innings beautifully. While his strike-rate – 122.18 – may not be mind-boggling, Babar usually played the role of the anchor and it was around him that Karachi’s innings would be built. He scored five fifties in the season and was a delight to watch whenever in flow.

Shane Watson (Quetta Gladiators):

Though he has retired from international cricket, Shane Watson is still packing a punch. After a terrific Big Bash League, the 36-year-old all-rounder carried his form over to the PSL for the Quetta Gladiators.

Watson was one of the star performers of the PSL this year with 319 runs and 11 wickets to his name and was the chief architects of Quetta’s qualification to the knockout stages. With the bat, Watson was his usual aggressive self and recorded 22 sixes in the league stages of the season. His outstanding unbeaten 90 off 58 balls against Karachi Kings was undoubtedly one of the performances of the tournament.

The burly Australian was also useful with the ball and regularly chipped in with crucial wickets, with his best being the brilliant 3-22 against Karachi Kings at the start of the tournament.

Wahab Riaz (Peshawar Zalmi):

He was clearly the bowler of the tournament. Wahab Riaz is known for his wicket-taking abilities but lately has been leaking a lot of runs. In PSL 2018, however, Wahab not only topped the bowling charts with 18 wickets, he was also miserly and had a terrific economy rate of 6.90.

He bowled great lengths and was especially hard to deal with in the death overs, with his searing yorkers in excess of 140kmph. Wahab’s bowling effort was one of the chief reasons for Peshawar’s surge to the final of the tournament. To add to his bowling performance, Wahab also smashed a 14-ball 28 in the final to cap a perfect season.

Shaheen Shah Afridi (Lahore Qalandars):

This 17-year old left-arm fast bowler was earmarked as one of the exciting prospects to watch out for in PSL 2018 and Shaheen Shah Afridi did not disappoint. After a fine show in the 2018 U-19 World Cup earlier this year, the youngster has easily been the best of the emerging players of the PSL this year.

While his team struggled in the tournament, Shaheen made a definite impact and was possibly the sole bright spot for Lahore. He snared 7 wickets in 7 games and was consistently threatening. He also produced the spell of the tournament with phenomenal figures of 3.4-1-4-5 against Multan. The young boy clearly is one for the future and PSL 2018 has given him the perfect launchpad for what may well be a remarkable career.

Hussain Talat (Islamabad United):

After Shaheen Afridi, Hussain Talat has been the most notable young performer of PSL 2018. The 22-year-old lower-order batsman did a superb job as a finisher for Islamabad United and made his mark in almost every opportunity he got. His unbeaten 48 off 34 balls against Multan Sultans, when Islamabad was struggling in a chase, was a fantastic effort.

The elegant left-hander remained not out on four of the ten occasions he batted and had a superb strike-rate of 131.37. He was also only the second player, after Darren Sammy, to record a run rate above ten runs per over in the last four overs. Talat was impressive with the ball as well, captured 4 wickets and reserving his best for the final, where his spell of 2-17 helped Islamabad clinch the title.

Shahid Afridi (Karachi Kings):

You simply cannot keep this man away from the game. Pakistan’s evergreen star, Shahid Afridi, was once again in the thick of things despite being forced down with injuries at the end. After pulling off a blinder of a catch at the start of the tournament, Afridi went on to impress with the ball, plucking 13 wickets in just 9 games.

He was as effective as ever and went at an outstanding economy rate of just 6.30. Afridi’s nippy leg-breaks were difficult to tackle and he forced the batsmen to play and miss more than any other spinner in the tournament this year. While Afridi could not shine much as a batsman this time, he did briefly display his pyrotechnics as he smashed four sixes off four balls against Peshawar Zalmi - becoming the first batsman in the PSL to achieve this feat.

 

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