There were quite a few players who surprised us with their dazzling performances in HBL PSL V. While, proven commodities such as Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi did what they do best but at the same time several other cricketers made their mark in PSL 2020 as well.
You might be surprised to see Shadab Khan's name on top of the list because he is very much part of the national team's setup and is a well-known leg-spinner but he took us all by surprise with his stupendous power-hitting skills. Notwithstanding that he has thumped a few half-centuries in ODI cricket and has been a handful down the order with the bat but he has never been seen as a reliable all-rounder. In addition to that, his T20 numbers in batting don't speak volumes about his latent hard-hitting skills but that notion shattered into pieces in this PSL.
He bludgeoned a half-century in a rain-truncated game against Peshawar Zalmi on March 7 at Rawalpindi. That innings was laced with five fours and four sixes. Earlier in the PSL V, Shadab struck a match-winning fifty against Lahore Qalandars in a very close contest. He scored at a blistering strike rate of 179.31 and inspired his team to play out of their skins. Eventually, United chased down 183 on the penultimate delivery.
The explosive batsman from Quetta Gladiators, Azam Khan, was adjudicated player of the match for his impressive 46-run knock against Karachi Kings in match six of the HBL PSL V. What stood out in his innings was his composure and calm demeanour. Azam has played with fearlessness and pursued with the natural strokeplay that has paid him rich dividends.
He started off his maiden PSL campaign in an emphatic style but he wasn't able to maintain the run-spree in the latter stage of the tournament. That said, he has shown voluminous improvement from the last year - didn't take the nepotism accusations to heart - and has shown enough promise to deliver the goods in the years to come. Let's hope he returns with immaculate fitness when the time comes of PSL VI so he can reach his full potential.
He made the cut in the tour Down Under last year and gave a glimpse of his power-hitting skills against Australia but PSL V, for the most part, remained a low-key affair for him. The southpaw turned to the tables in the last group stage match against Qalandars. The 25-year-old went berserk with the bat and demonstrated the cleanest of the hitting as he raced to 70* off 29 and maintained a strike rate of 241.38.
He is very much part of the national team's management plans and if he can continue to bat in the similar sort of free-spirited and uninhibited manner, he could certainly cement his place in the team especially given the fact that Asif Ali has not been able to provide consistent cameos and so Khushdil could be given a longer run in the months to come. In nine matches, he amassed 175 runs and scored at an impressive average of 43.75.
Haider Ali has hogged the limelight in PSL with his flamboyance and blazing strokeplay. He has shredded bowling attacks with ease and hasn't looked fazed on the big stage which has been the most striking aspect of the young sensation. Haider accumulated 239 runs at a strike rate of 158 and his standout performance came against Qalandars in a losing cause where he slammed his maiden T20 fifty (69 off 43).
The prodigy from Attock made quite an impression on Ian Bishop during the U19 World Cup as the seasoned commentator and former West Indian fast bowler compared Haider's cover drives with that of Babar and he has predicted a bright international career for Haider. He has got the coveted quality of thriving under pressure situations which he demonstrated in the semifinal of U19 World Cup where he played a solid innings against arch-rivals India.
Naseem Shah exhilarated us with his searing pace and scorching bumpers. There were doubts on how Naseem will fare in the shortest format after bursting onto the Test arena staggeringly. The youngest player to get a fifer in Tests didn't disappoint Quetta Gladiators in HBL PSL V. The 17-year-old phoenix was already riding high on confidence before debuting in PSL and made the headlines in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh Test series.
He showed the first glimpse of his sheer talent against Karachi with hostile pace and sharp bumpers. Even though he couldn't get a flurry of wickets, he bowled an economical spell and returned figures of 0/23 in his quota of overs against Karachi Kings in match six. He missed a couple of games owing to an ankle sprain but he has done enough to show that he can wreak havoc on batsmen in limited-overs as well.
Some honorary mentions include Arshad Iqbal, Zeeshan Ashraf and Dilbar Hussain who have all got the talent to make it big.