2018 PSL Team of the Tournament

CricViz analyst Patrick Noone selects his 2018 Pakistan Super League team of the tournament. 

Luke Ronchi (Islamabad United)

The New Zealand wicket-keeper batsman has been a revelation at the top of the order for the finalists. Ronchi has recorded the highest run rate in the Powerplay overs thanks to his aggressive approach that has seen him play an attacking stroke to 65% of the balls he has faced at that stage. He has been particularly brutal against the seamers, scoring at a scarcely believable 12.56 runs per over with 41% of the short balls he has faced flying to the boundary thanks to his ability to cut and pull with ease. With four half-centuries in his last six innings, including his unbeaten 94-run demolition job against Karachi Kings in the Qualifier in Dubai, Ronchi has been one of the standout overseas players in PSL 3.

Kamran Akmal (Peshawar Zalmi)

With 424 runs to his name, Kamran Akmal is the current leading run scorer in PSL 3 and has played a key role in Peshawar Zalmi’s late surge into this year’s final. He is the tournament’s sole centurion after his 61-ball 107* against Lahore Qalandars in Zalmi’s must win final group game and has posted four other scores of 50 or more in this year’s competition. His favourite scoring areas have been square of the wicket on the leg side – he has a run rate of 16.35 runs per over when playing the pull shot and has played 14 slog sweeps that have yielded him 57 runs without dismissal. The relative performances of these two openers in Sunday’s final could go a long way to deciding which team comes out on top in Karachi.

Shane Watson (Quetta Gladiators)

After a solid Big Bash League season, Watson arrived at his new PSL franchise in good form with both bat and ball. He carried that form into this competition with 11 wickets and over 300 runs that helped see Quetta qualify for the knockout stages. With bat in hand, he played with characteristic aggression, recording a higher attacking shot percentage than any other batsman in the middle overs of the innings. Nobody hit more sixes than Watson in the group stage of this year’s competition (22) and his standout knock was an unbeaten 90 against Karachi Kings that formed part of an 86-run partnership with Kevin Pietersen. With the ball, he demonstrated a canny knack of picking up wickets, only failing to do so in two of the ten matches he played.

Babar Azam (Karachi Kings)

A model of consistency in the Karachi Kings batting lineup, Babar Azam has been effective against both seam and spin (run rates of 7.80 and 6.38, respectively) and has also been able to score at a good rate, regardless of the phase he is batting in (6.93 in the Powerplay, 6.82 in the middle overs). He has been exposed slightly against short-pitched bowling, with five of his dismissals coming from short balls, but he has made up for that by cashing in whenever the seamers have overpitched.

Hussain Talat (Islamabad United)

The left-hander is our choice for emerging player of the tournament thanks to his ability to finish the innings for Islamabad. Hussain Talat has been not out in four of the nine innings he has batted in this year’s competition, recording a run rate in excess of eight runs per over on three of those occasions. In the death overs, he is one of only two players to record a run rate above ten runs per over having attacked 75.3% of the balls he has faced at that stage. He has also proved to be a handy option with the ball, picking up two wickets with his medium pace during Islamabad’s march to the final.

Shahid Afridi (Karachi Kings)

The evergreen leg-spinner has enjoyed another stellar tournament despite being dogged by injuries that ultimately saw him miss Karachi Kings’ knockout match in Lahore. As reliable as ever with ball in hand, Afridi is the spinner with the best bowling average against top six batsmen in PSL 3 and has forced batsmen to play and miss more often than any other spin bowler in this year’s competition (11.2%). Suitably bombastic with the bat – Afridi was dismissed for six runs off two balls in each of his innings against Lahore Qalandars before scoring six off the only ball he faced in the Super Over for good measure. Afridi also pulled off one of the catches of the tournament against Quetta Gladiators to complete an eye-catching all-round display.

Sunil Narine (Lahore Qalandars)

Playing in a dysfunctional team did nothing to dampen the impact of Narine on PSL 3. Lahore’s struggles with the bat have been well documented, but they had a standout performer with the ball in the shape of their Trinidadian mystery spinner. Narine drew a higher percentage of false shots (misses and edges) than any other spin bowler and his economy in the Powerplay overs of 5.10 was the best of any spinner who bowled at least 50 or more balls at that stage. He also held his nerve to defend 11 runs in a Super Over victory against Karachi Kings in Dubai.

Mohammad Nawaz (Quetta Gladiators)

In a tournament that has seen several slow left-arm bowlers on show, none has caught the eye quite like Mohammad Nawaz. His second match saw him record frankly ridiculous figures of 2-4 against Islamabad United in a spell that featured 20 dot balls. Across the tournament, exactly half of the balls he bowled were dots, an illustration of batsmen’s inability to get him away. Furthermore, he was the spinner who saw the lowest percentage of attacking shots played against him and his tournament economy rate of 5.44 was the best of any spinner in PSL 3.

Faheem Ashraf (Islamabad United)

Despite not being the tallest of seam bowlers, Faheem Ashraf has demonstrated excellent use of the short ball on his way to becoming the highest wicket-taker in the tournament. Nine of his 17 wickets have come from balls pitching shorter than 8m from the batsman’s stumps and no seamer has bowled a higher percentage of short balls than his 17.1%. With the ability to vary his pace – Faheem’s fastest ball in PSL 3 was 147.40kph, his slowest 106.47kph – he has been a constant threat to batsmen who have struggled to settle against his variations.

Wahab Riaz (Peshawar Zalmi)

Sporting a Mitchell Johnson-style moustache throughout the tournament, Wahab has bowled with similar pace and hostility to his fellow left-arm quick. Though he has been used throughout the innings, and his middle over economy rate of 6.00 is bettered only by Shane Watson and Mohammad Irfan of seamers to have bowled 50 balls or more, it is in the last five overs that Wahab has come into his own in this tournament. He has taken 9 wickets and conceded just 7.65 runs per over at that stage, thanks to his ability to fire in yorkers in excess of 140kph. 10.6% of the balls he’s bowled in the last five overs have been yorker length with only two of those yorkers clocking less than 140kph.

Hasan Ali (Peshawar Zalmi)

While Wahab has been doing it at the death for Peshawar, Hasan Ali has been getting things done at the other end of the innings. His dot ball percentage in the Powerplay overs is higher than all other seamers to have bowled 50 balls or more at that stage and six of his ten wickets have come in the first six overs of the innings. Hasan has been similarly effective against both right-handers and left-handers, averaging 24 and 21 respectively, while his success in the early part of the innings makes Sunday’s match up with Luke Ronchi a potentially key battle.

Patrick Noone is an analyst at CricViz.

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