Surge in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra pushes IND-ENG ODI series behind closed doors
28 Feb 2021
The Pakistan Super League that was suspended earlier this year due to rise in Covid-19 cases within the franchise teams is now slated to begin on June 9 in Abu Dhabi.
After quite some drama about the restart, the first match after of the remainder of the tournament is scheduled to be played between Lahore Qalandars and Islamabad United on June 9. Throughout the later half of May and then in the first couple of days in June, the Pakistan Cricket Board struggled with the logistics. The first bump for the board came in form of visa-related issues for Pakistani players, and later, several Pakistani players and support staff were not allowed to board flights to the UAE due to lack of clearances.
That seems to be old gravy now, as PCB CEO Wasim Khan in his latest media conference has said that they are making the PSL as watertight as possible for the smooth functioning of the remainder of the season.
Prior to the postponement of the tournament, Islamabad were sitting at the number three spot in the points table, Lahore were at four before the tournament was halted.
Karachi Kings were placed at the helm of the tally while Peshawar Zalmi followed them at two. In the first leg, batters from most teams found it difficult to get going in the initial overs with some quality pace bowling on display under the lights from homegrown pacers. The pace, bounce and movement in the air found the batsmen in testing conditions and players had to tough it out in the initial stage of the game. To nobody's surprise, the top 5 wicket-takers in the league at the moment are pacers, but that could change drastically with the matches being played at the slow and low pitches of the UAE.
On that note, we now take a look at the top five run-getters in this edition of the PSL 2021 who braved conditions to make it into this list.
Mohammad Rizwan (Multan Sultans)
Pakistan wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan has had to wait for quite a while for his talent to be recognised at the international stage. But, he is slowly making a name for himself at the top level and has performed consistently well for his PSL side Multan Sultans in this edition so far.
While the Sultans haven’t had a great tournament managing to win only one out of the five matches that they have played, Rizwan is placed at the top of the chart for the highest run-getter in the PSL 2021.
In five matches that he had featured in, the right-handed batsman amassed 297 runs at a brilliant average of 59.40 and a strike-rate of over 140. Rizwan has also notched up three half-centuries with 76 being his personal best in the competition.
Rizwan’s 76 came in a winning cause for his side against the Qalandars after he helped them chase down a target of 158 runs in just over 16 overs from a tricky situation. The Multan captain stitched a stand of 110 runs with Sohail Maqsood who remained not out on 61 to take the team over the line.
Babar Azam (Karachi Kings)
Table-toppers Karachi Kings’ Babar Azam is following Rizwan at number two with a total of 258 runs in 5 matches at an average of 86. An anchor role player in T20 cricket, Babar has so far struck three fifties including an unbeaten 90. The right-handed batsman is pipped to be the next big thing in world cricket and he is proving his worth with every passing game.
Babar recently attained the top spot in the ICC Rankings for ODIs surpassing India captain Virat Kohli. Azam’s 60-ball 90* which involved 13 boundaries and a maximum came against Multan Sultans and anchored his side to win by 7 wickets while chasing a mammoth 196 with more than an over to spare.
The Pakistan skipper stitched a stand of 97 runs with Joe Clarke to take his side over the line. Clarke too completed his half-century and remained not out at 54 off 26.
Sharjeel Khan (Karachi Kings)
Another Karachi Kings batsman has made a place for himself in this list. Opener Sharjeel Khan has so far accumulated 200 runs in 5 matches for the team at an average of 40 and an aggressive strike-rate of over 170.
The left-handed batsman had a decent start to the campaign after he notched up a ton in his second match against the United team. Sharjeel scored 105 and had a partnership of 176 runs for the first wicket with Babar Azam before the Pakistan captain departed for 62 off 54 at the beginning of the 19th over.
Karachi, though looking to put up a huge total at one stage were eventually restricted to 196/3 by the United bowlers.
The Islamabad side didn’t really have a great start to the chase as they lost a couple of early wickets during the course but a late surge from Iftikhar Ahmed and Hussain Talat helped them chase the target by 5 wickets and with five balls the spare.
Sharjeel followed his hundred with a 27, 64 and 0 before the competition was suspended.
Fakhar Zaman (Lahore Qalandars)
Pakistan and Lahore Qalandars opener Fakhar Zaman takes the fourth spot in the tally of batsmen with the most number of runs in the PSL 2021 so far. In four matches that Zaman has played for Lahore, he has scored 189 runs at an average of 63 and a strike-rate of over 143 including a couple of fifties to his name.
Fakhar Zaman’s highest individual score of 83 in PSL 2021 came against Karachi Kings in a winning cause. Chasing 187, Lahore suffered few early blows before Zaman and Ben Dunk joined hands and steadied the ship for his team with a 119-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Dunk remained not out for 57 as Lahore chased down the target by 6 wickets in the final over eventually.
Fakhar has been a consistent performer for Pakistan especially in the ODI format and also became the first batsman from the country to score a double-century. He struck 210* against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo in 2018.
The left-handed batsman has also scored 193 against South Africa in 2021 but in a losing cause.
Sarfaraz Ahmed (Quetta Gladiators)
Former Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed is at number five spot in this list. He has so far scored 185 runs in 5 matches at an average of 37 and a strike rate of 146.82 including two half-centuries.
The wicket-keeper batsman had been in some good form before the tournament was stopped.
Sarfaraz’s highest individual score of 81 off 40 came against Peshawar Zalmi. Gladiators rode on the skipper’s knock to put 198/7 in 20 overs on the board but his efforts went in vain as Zalmi chased down the target by three wickets and three balls to spare.
Sarfaraz has arguably been one of the most successful Pakistan captains apart from Imran Khan. He has lifted the U19 World Cup while leading his side to victory in ICC Champions Trophy in 2017 against India.
But the right-hander faced a lot of criticism after his side didn’t have a good time during the 50-over World Cup in 2019 in England he was subsequently sacked from the captaincy.
The PSL was earlier scheduled to resume on June 1 in Karachi with all the matches to be played at the same venue including the final.
The title clash had to take place on June 20. But citing the COVID-19 conditions in the country, the PSL franchises requested the Pakistan Cricket Board to move the competition out.
The final will now be played on June 24 in Abu Dhabi.