The much-awaited decision to stand out Umar Akmal finally came into effect and the Qalandars tasted their first PSL 2018 win. Islamabad United has also found a winning combination and now shows glimpses of its glorious form from 2016. Debutantes Multan Sultans have won hearts with a star-studded cast and were impressive off the line.
However, where we have seen top-level bowling products Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali and Fakhar Zaman, the PSL has been mediocre for Pakistani batsmen. The world over, players take T20 leagues as a stepping stone to International cricket or a comeback, but Pakistani batsmen struggle with contemporary T20 techniques and prefer to stay conventional.
Ahmed Shahzad, who opens for Multan Sultans, has done injustice to his talent so far. He has scored 146 runs at a strike rate of only 83 in his first eight games. Shahzad is also the first-choice opener for Pakistan despite his average strike rate of 115 in T20 internationals.
Khurram Manzoor, who rode on the back of a healthy first-class season, failed to convert his form and cement his place for Karachi Kings. He is sitting on 100 runs off of 98 deliveries. Strike rate? 102.
Gold-plated Umar Akmal was dropped from the playing XI due to poor form. He has thus far been unable to give Lahore a positive return on investment. He has only managed 57 runs in five matches.
Babar Azam maintains a strike rate of 105 in this PSL. While he is third in the ICC T20 batting rankings, he is far behind the top two. His strike rate of 122 is a giant leap backwards from the 163 of first-placed Colin Munro and second-placed Glenn Maxwell’s 165.
The pitches of Dubai and Sharjah offered true bounce and pace in the first leg of the tournament. The conditions were favourable for batsmen to hit through the line and score quickly. Where Pakistani batsmen have struggled to have any impact, foreign signings kept up with the expectations of modern T20 cricket. The table below provides an overview of leading PSL3 batsmen and their strike rates.
The average strike rate of the top thirteen Pakistani batsmen in PSL3 so far is 112. On the other hand, the top thirteen foreign signings score at a strike rate of 128.
The inexpressive batting by local players is concerning whereas the aggressive mindset of foreign players has made a positive impact in the field. This is why franchises are naturally relying more on these batsmen than on local stars which corroborates that domestic batsmen are not enhancing their skillset and living up to international standards.
PSL3 is now moving towards the second half and the pitches will be dry and cracked. This will support bowlers as the ball grips and spins. The batting conditions are only going to tougher. It is high time that our batsmen update their strategies and work on increasing their strike rates.