Ahsan Iftikhar Nagi: Luke Ronchi! The former New Zealand and Australia international will not only fill in the vacuum left after the bans on Khalid Latif and Sharjeel Khan, but he will also be filling in the gloves of Brad Haddin. Ronchi is also in a good touch with the bat these days, as, he scored a 40 and 78 for Vikings last week in the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League.
Ronchi is in great touch with the bat these days.
Anam Nadeem: There were so many gun signings this year; Chris Lynn, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Johnson, Carlos Brathwaite and Imran Tahir to name a few. One pick that stood out for me though was not of a star but a player who got sidetracked. Raza Hasan’s induction by Lahore Qalandars has to be one of the high points of this year’s draft. Before failing a drug test in 2015, Hasan was deemed as the next big thing for Pakistan. Since his comeback to the domestic circuit this season, he’s been super impressive. It will be a huge opportunity for the 25-year-old left-arm spinner from Sialkot to redeem himself through PSL.
Raza Hasan will try to redeem himself through PSL
Clive Azavedo: Has to be Luke Ronchi - the fact that he is available all season, is a wicketkeeper and a quick scorer are all assets I have mentioned before. Chris Lynn might add value to his side as an opener, but it is to be noted that Ronchi in the past two years has been scoring quicker than Lynn along with keeping the stumps.
Shmyla Khan: While the analysts hunched over laptops and crunched numbers to pick the best possible teams, the story of the PSL draft has to be Raza Hassan. Once an upcoming superstar of the Pakistani cricketing circuit, a series of bad decisions derailed his career completely. Hassan was reportedly playing in streets, shunned from Gaddafi and its accompanying facilities. Leading up to this pick, he was metaphorically “adopted” by Director Cricket Operations of the Qalandars, Aqib Javed. We hope that he makes a comeback this PSL season, and a Lollywood movie and copyright battles won’t be far behind. Bring on the feels!
Umair Khalid: I wanted to pick Chris Lynn, but he is not the ideal candidate for Lahore Qalandars who need an anchor in the middle-order. The other best option I can find is Luke Ronchi. The Kiwi’s stats speak for themselves. He has been in a brilliant form, especially in T20s this year and is the ideal replacement of Brad Haddin with Sam Billings available as a cover. Moreover, he also addresses the opening dilemma for United, potentially partnering with the young Sahibzada Farhan.
Nagi: Probably, Ahmed Shehzad! Multan Sultans required a specialist opener, yet they waited till the Gold category to pick the only Pakistani in the Platinum category. The process of his pick makes it a bit weird.
Anam: Mohammed Abbas for Multan Sultans. How did that happen? He’s been a terrific Test find for Pakistan but his selection in the PSL is baffling. Abbas’ T20 stats don’t support his case either. He’s played 8 matches in the domestic tournament so far, managing to pick 6 wickets at an economy rate of 8.78 and a strike rate of 28. Who knows maybe Wasim Akram can weave his magic around Mohammed Abbas and turn him into an impact bowler for Multan Sultans?
Mohammad Abbas has been a terrific test find for Pakistan
Clive: Darren Bravo for Multan Sultans. Scoring at just 7.32 RPO, Bravo’s T20 batting does not do wonders to the side. More weird given the fact that he was picked in the Diamond round - surely they would have been better picks in the Diamond category.
Darren Bravo was picked by Multan Sultans in the Diamond round
Shmyla: Omissions are often as grave as commissions, and the weirdest pick of the PSL draft was not something that the teams did—but rather their failure to do so. These teams will have to answer at the altar of cricketing history: the exclusion of Imran Nazir.
Umair: The weirdest one has got to be Azam Khan, Moin Khan’s son. While it’s unlikely that he will get a game for Quetta Gladiators, his inclusion over some domestic performers including the likes of Imam-ul-Haq and Sami Aslam was unjustified.
Azam Khan is Moin Khan’s son
Nagi: It has to be Islamabad United. From JP Duminy till Zafar Gohar, United picked the players who are best suited for the format. Their picks compliment the players already in the side. Fahim Ashraf is expected to provide a supporting role to West Indies international Andre Russell; JP Duminy provides depth in both the batting and bowling departments; and as mentioned earlier, Luke Ronchi is a handy wicketkeeper-batsman to have in the top-order.
Anam: The ‘dimagh se’ brigade aka Islamabad United have pulled off a fantastic job in picking the most talked about squad in the draft. Their ‘red-hot dream team’ is already giving nightmares to other franchises and their fans. On one hand they have rising young stars like Shadab Khan, Rumman Raees, Faheem Ashraf, Hussain Talat, Zafar Gohar and Sahibzada Farhan; and on the other they have the experienced Misbah ul Haq, JP Duminy, Luke Ronchi, Samuel Badree and Andre Russell. They even have Alex Hales and David Willey as their supplementary picks. The team management will have a tough time choosing the perfect 11.
Clive: Islamabad United. They had issues with their batting after the fixing incident, but they have gone ahead and fixed that by bringing in Ronchi and plugging the hole in their middle order batting by picking Duminy. But what makes them the best team is the fact that they have picked the best local talent in Faheem Ashraf, Hussain Talat & Sahibzada Farhan. All of them can slotted straight into the playing 11 and hold their weight. Their supplementary picks just strengthen the side as well.
Shmyla: If we look at each category, the team that consistently picked top players was Islamabad United. JP Duminy—platinum category; Luke Ronchi—diamond category; Faheem Ashraf—Gold category and Sam Billings and Zafar Gohar—Silver category. Each of these players tick all the boxes when it comes to availability and T20 prowess. JP Duminy in any list is a star, Luke Ronchi is a T20 specialist and they made the strongest pick in the Gold category by picking Faheem Ashraf. This draft and the presence of Misbah might finally make Islamabad likable.
Umair: Islamabad United. Instead of going after star power, the managers knew what they needed for specific roles. The most important aspect is that the young bunch including Shadab, Raees and Faheem know their exact roles and how to step up on important occasions. Sahibzada Farhan and Luke Ronchi are ideal replacements for Sharjeel and Lateef while JP Duminy can serve an anchoring role in the middle. Faheem might have shown his credentials with the ball recently, but he is a clean hitter in the death overs.
Nagi: Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi.
Anam: Islamabad United and Islamabad United. Oh well, for all the non Islamabad United supporters (like myself) this has been a hard pill to swallow. Islamabad have managed to pick the most balanced squad. It is so balanced that the the other 5 teams don’t even come close. (brb crying)
Clive: Islamabad United, long gap and then Karachi Kings.
Shmyla: Islamabad United. Lahore Qalandars.
Umair: Islamabad United: The right mix throughout.
Honourable mention to Peshawar Zalmi, who perhaps has the most options to rotate players to avoid fatigue or cope with any injuries.
Nagi: Luke Ronchi by Islamabad United
Anam: Imran Tahir’s selection by Multan Sultans was a masterstroke. He has been the backbone of Proteas limited overs team over the years. The franchise has two T20 geniuses, Shoaib Malik and Kieron Pollard in their platinum category as well. Multan’s overall team selection is debatable but for me at least their platinum picks are all match winners.
Clive: Multan Sultans. The general manager of the side, Haider Azhar said that the aim was to pick the core in the pre-draft they had and they did well by picking Shoaib Malik and Keiron Pollard, but Imran Tahir’s pick easily makes them one of the best platinum trio in the PSL. Tahir has done well in the IPL and there is no reason why he won’t do well even in the PSL.
Shmyla: Every time you see Lahore Qalandars try to franchise at the PSL, it’s like seeing a kid on training wheels. A fall is not only expected, but also acceptable. Thus, it was great to see Lahore Qalandars make the most obvious choice of the draft successfully… and they did it in within the prescribed time and everything. Chris Lynn is an absolute T20 juggernaut, and a pro in the league circuit. Good job, guys, you’ve made it to club of adult franchises.
Umair: Multan Sultans: Shoaib Malik, Kieron Pollard and Imran Tahir
Nagi: What makes this pick interesting is the fact that Shehzad was the sole Pakistani in the Platinum category. He had gone unnoticed in the previous 17 picks — six each in Platinum and Diamond categories and five in the Gold category — by all the franchises and then he was taken on board by the Sultans. They needed a specialist opener for sure in their line-up but if they were really eyeing Shehzad, they could have had him in the earlier rounds. However, Sultans’ director cricket legendary Wasim Akram had made a point by mentioning that he would have a chat with the right-handed batsman about his attitude. One will certainly be keeping an eye on Shehzad this PSL in search of a transformation.
Anam: Ahmed Shehzad has been the highest runscorer for Quetta Gladiators. But despite that as a Quetta supporter I was relieved when the team decided to release him. It’s not about how many runs he scores or not scores but the entire ‘Selfie’ package and his attitude has become a baggage over the years. His demotion from Platinum to the Gold category sums it up nicely. It will be interesting to see if Shahzad can turn things around in the third edition of the PSL. This might well be his final chance.
Clive: Ahmed Shehzad has scored the most runs in the history of PSL and he has done it at 8.28 RPO. He has easily been one of the best batsmen in the league. So it was strange to see that he was picked after being demoted to gold with him originally being in the Platinum Category. There has to be more than just his cricket which has seen him been such a late pick. Cricket wise though this is a really good pick by Multan Sultans, but what this demotion from platinum to gold shows us that franchises are looking for more than just a player’s cricketing ability but his overall attitude and what intangibles he brings to the table.
Shmyla: When Wahab Riaz the Snapchat prince (the undisputed King being Waqar Zaka) rose up from the smog and delivered a Snapstory of himself and his teammates wading through their toughest opponent yet: the thick Punjabi smog, most of us had our bunny filter whiskers up. Would we lose our captain to a fog-induced death? Will Wahab be injured, not so tragically, trying to guide his fellow teammates through zero-visibility? However what we were not concerned about was whether Ahmed Shehzad would make it to the Draft in time. A small part of us wished that the rickshaw driver who guided our heroes through the smog took a look at one particular passenger of that car and made an executive decision to give Ahmed Shehzad a special ride—a ride away from Lahore. Alas, we were not so lucky and he managed to make it to the draft. I end my analysis here.
Umair: I think eyebrows would have been raised anyway considering Shahzad’s recent history, but he has performed in both seasons of the PSL. I still feel Gold is a little high for him, as his current form merit a silver contract at max. The positive side of having a lower value of the contract is that lowers pressure of his price tag, which may serve him positively at this time.