By Hassan Raza
With just a couple of days away from the launch of the third edition of Pakistan Super League, stakes couldn’t be higher. A domestic league that gifted us with the brilliance of Shadab Khan, class of Fakhar Zaman and excellence of Ruman Raees, PSL has been more than just a game for cricket fans who have been deprived of regular international matches on home soil for almost a decade. Every year, PSL delivers beyond its expectations and this year when the league will feature one more team and more home matches, excitement is surely bound to get doubled. As the clock ticks, let’s look at 5 players to watch out for in PSL 2018.
Shaheen Shah Afridi
From Wasim Akram to Muhammad Amir, Pakistan has a long history of producing left arm pacers but only a few of them were able to make their mark in international cricket. Based on his recent performance in Under 19 World Cup, Shaheen Shah Afridi has potential to be the spotlight of the upcoming domestic league. The 17-year-old will be representing Lahore Qalandar and is definitely to watch out for.
A classy southpaw, 22-year-old Saud Shakeel occupies a spot on the Quetta Gladiators roster. At first glance, he looks like a cross between legendary openers Saeed Anwar and Amir Sohail, while his premeditated shuffle in the crease might evoke the memory of a certain Salman Butt. While those certainly are lofty comparisons, few can deny that Shakeel is a natural talent — a first-class average of 43.17 and an even better list A average of 47.58 are a testament to that. Granted, the youngster has been found wanting in the T20 format so far, but he has time and opportunities on his side to atone that teeny-tiny blemish on his otherwise impressive CV.
There is always a tinge of irony whenever Imran Tahir features as a foreign player with reference to Pakistan, whether it’s the PSL or the ICC World XI. But there’s no questioning South African leggie’s stature as among the very best in the game. Among the international elites, Imran Tahir is arguably the highest profile foreign player in the PSL. And Multan Sultans would be relying heavily on his spin and guile – not to mention the infectious passion he brings – to make their mark in their debut season.
In the current captain of the West Indies T20 side, the man who hit four consecutive sixes in the final over to win the World Cup for his side, Quetta Gladiators have an explosive all-rounder who can win them any game with the bat, and can do a good job with the ball as well.
Runners-up in both PSL seasons so far, the Gladiators have relied on their top order in the first two seasons have lacked that big hitter down the order.
They might have precisely that in the shape of Carlos Braithwaite, who might be the differential that helps Quetta go one step further.
Usman Khan Shinwari
The left arm fast bowler Usman Khan Shinwari’s impressive run in international cricket hit an unwanted break after the pacer suffered a back injury but he is back in the game now. Shinwari has now recovered well enough and is back to bowling and he will be seen in action at the upcoming third edition of Pakistan Super League, with his left arm orthodox bowling style, serious pace and ability to swing the ball both ways, he can turn up to be a surprise for other five teams.
If you’re as excited as we about Pakistan Super League 2018 then head over to our YouTube channel!