CricViz summarise some of the key talking points from week one of the PSL.
QUETTA LEAD THE WAY
Quetta Gladiators are the early pace setters in the fledgling PSL table. Three matches, three run chases, three wins for the men in purple who have remarkably scored exactly 161 in each of their three successful chases.
They have benefitted from winning the toss in all three matches, allowing them to field first, as is their obvious preference. But that takes nothing away from the way they have gone about their business in a clinical, ruthless way. The Gladiators have only used twelve players so far, maintaining a settled bowling attack that has been tight enough to not leave them requiring contributions from a sixth or seventh bowler.
In the Powerplay, Quetta have been the second most economical team, behind Islamabad United, and have bowled a higher percentage of dots than any other team in the competition to date.
In the middle overs, they have been similarly miserly with three of their five bowlers registering economy rates of under seven runs per over. Additionally, leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed is the leading wicket-taker in the tournament during that phase of the innings for four scalps in the three matches he’s played.
The death overs has been the only slight area of concern for the Gladiators so far. They conceded 54 and 52 in the last five overs of their first two matches and only took three wickets across the two innings. In their third game, they took six Multan Sultans wickets – including three in the last over – but still conceded 49 runs.
Up until now, their bowling in the first 15 overs has been sufficiently good that it is yet to cost them, but as it stands, their death bowling has been the difference between opposition sides posting middling scores or going on to set more challenging targets.
So far though, Quetta have had little difficulty chasing the targets that they’ve been set, thanks largely to the batting of Shane Watson and Umar Akmal. Watson is the tournament’s leading run-scorer with 161 runs in three innings, while Akmal is joint second with 136. With Rilee Roussow not far behind on 96, Quetta have again been able to benefit from a settled top order that has prevented the tail from being exposed.
Even allowing for the poor form of Ahmed Shehzad, who was dropped after two matches, the Gladiators have still only lost nine wickets in three innings, fewer than every team besides Peshawar Zalmi (seven) who, at the time of writing, have played a game fewer.
Watson and Roussow have scored their runs quickly – 8.78 and 8.86 runs per over, respectively – thanks to a particularly aggressive approach that sees Watson top the list for attacking shot percentage, with Roussow not far behind in third position.
As a team, Quetta have been the most attacking batting unit, but that extra aggression has not led to a higher rate of errors. Despite the inherent risk being taken, the Gladiators have been able to record one of the lowest false shot percentages in the competition.
Of course, it’s still early days and nothing can be taken for granted in the volatile world of a T20 league. Quetta could yet come unstuck if they find themselves chasing a higher target and some of the other batsmen are required to step up if and when Watson, Akmal and Roussow miss out. But as it stands, they are the form team and look to have most bases covered as the tournament enters its second phase of matches.
BIG CHASE; SMALL DEFENCE
The Lahore Qalandars – perennial strugglers in the PSL – have made a start to the season which encapsulates their inconsistency. After failing to defend 171 on the opening night against Islamabad United – the sixth highest chase in PSL history; they then managed to defend 138 against Karachi Kings – the fourth lowest defence in PSL history. Then, in their third match they were bowled out for 78 – the second lowest first innings score in PSL history. The Qalandars are yet to put a complete performance with bat and ball together and find themselves rooted to the foot of the table.
ANDRE RUSSELL’S PACE STRUGGLE
Andre Russell was a late addition to the Multan Sultans’ squad – signed as a replacement player for Steve Smith. So far though, while he has made a typically explosive start with the bat – scoring 43 runs at 10.74 runs per over – he has struggled badly with the ball – conceding 90 runs in 10 overs and taking just one wicket. What has been particularly noticeable about Russell has been the speed of his bowling, which has been well down on his typical levels.
CHASERS CONTINUE TO DOMINATE
Six of the eight matches so far have been won by the chasing team, enhancing the PSL’s reputation as the most chasing-friendly league of the major T20 leagues. Since the league’s inception 60% of matches have been won by the chasers.