The Pakistan Super League is the latest inaugural T20 league to take off. As the group stages are on the verge of ending, we look at the young emerging players who have stood out for us so far. We hope to see some of them at the Champions Trophy this summer.
The first emerging star is Babar Azam of Karachi Kings. He is the most known emerging star coming out of the PSL right now having just started his international career. His international career has got off to a good start making three consecutive ODI hundreds against the West Indies and a century against Australia last time out. Having just been introduced into the test team against Australia his claim to a long-term spot could be in the offing.
In this edition of the PSL he has accumulated 189 runs in 6 innings including 50 against Quetta Gladiators and an unbeaten 47* against defending champions Islamabad United which helped his side get off the mark having lost their first three games.
Emerging star number two is left-handed batsman Fakhar Zaman of Lahore Qalandars. Having accumulated 158 runs in a Lahore Qalandars line-up under the guidance of Brendon McCullum he is stepping up to the plate. With captain McCullum struggling for runs and Umar Akmal inconsistently consistent, Zaman’s runs have been vital with tomorrow’s game against Karachi Kings a straight shoot-out for the quarter-finals if Islamabad United fail to beat leaders, Quetta later tonight.
Pakistan might have another Khan sensation on their hands as emerging star number three is Shadab Khan. The Islamabad United all-rounder is being touted as the next superstar to hit the international stage. Contributions in all three departments has seen many take notice of him.
A quick fire 42 which included two fours and three sixes against Islamabad saw him enhance his reputation before he added 2/28 with the ball which almost got his Islamabad side over the line in an unlikely situation. The 18-year old has been applauded for his exemplary all-round performances.
Another 18-year old comes to the crease in Hasan Khan who plays for Quetta Gladiators. Having been thrown in the deep-end with in-form leaders Quetta, Hasan has been a shining star with the ball with an economy of 6.23 – the third highest by bowlers who have bowled over 20 overs. With 7 wickets, so far in the PSL, Quetta will be looking to him as a secret weapon if they are to win the second edition of the Pakistan Super League.
You may have heard of a 7-foot giant called Mohammed Irfan but it is Mohammed Irfan Jr that is making the headlines. Under the guidance once again of Brendon McCullum at Lahore Qalandars his rise from a supplementary pick in the auction has seen his bowling skill take on a new height. A key player now for Lahore with 7 wickets this season his un-orthodox style has seen his captain put faith in his man and has delivered crucial wickets at crucial times. His recent plaudits have come from captain McCullum and team-mate Grant Elliott who are loving his willingness to learn. He completes our list of five emerging players from the PSL.
With competition for places we have picked three wildcards who will be looking to break into the national sides as Champions Trophy is a few months away.
The first wildcard we have picked is Islamabad United’s killer bowler Rumman Raees. He is on the verge on breaking into Pakistan’s national side. With a tough bowling quartet to split in the Pakistan national side, Rumman’s deceptive variations may push his cause. With only one T20I under his belt (v West Indies) Ruman has impressed this PSL with deadly variations which has seen him pick up wickets in every game so far including 3/26 against Lahore. With an economy of 6.06 this season he is anticipated to pick up a wicket every 13 deliveries.
Which leads nicely on to surprise wildcard number two…
Aamer Yamin may have only played two games this PSL but boy is he making sure he takes his chance. Known as the surprise package he has come through the circuit from junior level and has made his international debut. He was picked for the Zimbabwe tour in 2015 where he only managed a single wicket in three games and despite hitting a high score of 62 with the bat he has not been seen on the international stage since. His introduction into the PSL saw him demonize the top order of defending champions Islamabad by taking 3/17 off his four overs which included wickets of Rafatullah, Misbah and Brad Haddin. His economy of 5.62 has only been improved by Mohammed Hafeez. His skiddy action is a huge deception for batsmen and could be tantalising in overcast conditions overseas.
The third and final wildcard is Usama Mir. The leg-spinner who plays for Karachi Kings has enjoyed a fruitful tournament so far. A regular wicket-taker this tournament with wickets in all four games played, his standout game saw him repel a Shahid Afridi onslaught. Having been thrown the ball by his captain, Kumar Sangakarra in the final over, Usama managed to hold his nerve and close out victory for his side. In a pressure situation where Afridi had gone berserk and had launched him into the crowd the previous ball, Usama managed to pick up the two wickets needed to win and seal the fate of the game.
Foreign stand-out players
The foreign import of T20 specialists has seen quite a few superstars fail to turn up so far. With Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum miserably out of form the two stand out players chosen have impressed with regularity.
Sam Billings is clearly a character on and off the pitch and he brings it to his game. His stand out of 78 not out against Quetta saw him continue his adventurous style of cricket. He unfortunately had to leave early due to England commitments but he is a cricketer who is inventive and dynamic player who is hopefully given more chances in an England shirt in all formats.
The recently turned Kolpak player, Rilee Roussow is the second foreign stand-out player with the second highest runs scored in the tournament so far. With a top score of 76 and his all-round ability it seems he may have given up the international stage too early.
With nail-biting action in the second edition of the PSL set to continue be sure to look at these stand-out players as the Champions Trophy draws near.